November 14th, 2012
I agree with Grotius – the 17th century Dutch jurist, in that one can freely revoke their offer to agree/contract. To expand on his sentiment, one should be able revoke an offer even after it has been accepted, in my opinion. Moreover, I view an offer and an acceptance as just furthering the negotiation process until a definite agreement has been stated – which of course would be when the situation becomes a win-win for both parties; or so the possibility exists, anyhow. If you find the last point blasphemous, hear this: Until the point where products or money or whatever valuable consideration begins to change hands and does change hands, everything is still up in the air. Larger and more long-term deals may have some problems with this sentiment of mine, but even there, nearly all terms of an agreement should be open to re-negotiation at any time.
One should be able to revoke an offer at anytime, because such seems to happen all the time anyhow. Let’s say A has a couple of tickets to the big show this evening. He can’t attend or wants to sell the tickets for the money, or whatever. B has expressed an interest in buying the tickets. A says he wants $100 each to sell. B hesitates and says he will get back to A with his decision in a little while. B decides to buy and contacts A attempting to accept A’s offer of $100 each for the tickets. A now declines to sell saying he wants $175 each. For the purists in the crowd, assume this is not a face to face discussion (let’s make it an email or cell phone text offer or fax or something) and maybe A has received another offer for more money than his initial $100 dollar offer in the interim since the time A made the initial offer to B. Anyway, in this hypothetical, no valid offer would have been apparent according to the proposed doctrine and A is free to take the higher offer for the tickets.