Notes - Dickinson v. Dodds | rauvinj | September 06, 2012


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Original Creator: Kessler, Gilmore & Kronman Current Version: rauvinj
Offer made cannot be accepted if another offer for the same good/contract for the same good has already been accepted, even if your offer was made earlier/prior to the one accepted. EDIT ANNOTATED ITEM INFORMATION DELETE ANNOTATED ITEM


1. Professor Winfield, in criticizing the decision as unsound, makes the following point in Pollock's Principles of Contract 21 (13th ed. 1950):


A [Dodds] stated in his offer the exact price of the house. That was the consideration on his side. Why should the Jaw insist that he was entitled to extra consideration for allowing the offeree a certain time within which he could accept? Presumably he might have taken that very factor into account in fixing the sum that constituted the price, i.e., he may have fixed it rather higher than he would have done if no time had been specified.


See also State of New York, Law Revision Commission 57 (2d Annual Report, 1936). Suppose Dodds before acceding to the postscript had raised the price to £805. Different result? Is not the increased chance of an acceptance on the part of the offeree or the likelihood of reliance by the offeree sufficient consideration? For an interesting explanation of Dickinson v. Dodds in terms of the philosophy of contracts of the time, see J. Dawson, W. Harvey & S. Henderson, Cases and Comment on Contracts 335, 336 (4th ed. 1982). Consult Maughs v. Porter, 157 Va. 415, 161 S.E. 242 (1931); Boston & Maine R.R. v. Bartlett, 57 Mass. (3 Cush.) 224 (1849). Was it of any significance that the postscript contained the word "over" instead of "open"? Is either word free from ambiguity? See The New York Statute on Irrevocable Offers, 43 Colum. L. Rev. 487, 488-490 (1943); 46 Mich. L. Rev. 58, 60 (1947).

2. Suppose plaintiff, relying on the offer, had spent £5 to have the title searched. Should he be entitled to get specific performance, or at least to get a refund? Bard v. Kent, 19 Cal. 2d 449, 122 P.2d 8, 139 A.L.R. 1032 (1942).

3. Was it irrelevant that the defendant's promise was in writing?

4. Has the "naked" promise to keep an offer open for a certain period any legal significance? Suppose on Thursday plaintiff had offered £750 and the defendant had remained silent. Could plaintiff still accept on Friday, assuming that the property had not been sold in the meantime? Restatement Second §39. Assume that the defendant replied, "Must insist on £800"; can plaintiff accept? Consult Livingstone v. Evans, [1954] 4 D.L.R. (Alta. Sup. Ct.).

5. Suppose Dodds had sold the property but without plaintiff's knowledge. Same result? Threlkeld v. Inglett, 289 Ill. 90, 124 N.E. 368 (1919). Is it relevant whether Berry was authorized by Dodds to convey the information, and whether Dickinson could regard the information as reliable? Restatement second §43.

6. Why did the notice of acceptance left by plaintiff with Mrs. Burgess not complete the contract? Restatement Second §68.

7. The rule in Dickinson v. Dodds has been one of the main targets of the critics of the consideration doctrine. "It may. . . be ordinary business understanding that an offer for a bargain is revocable until the bargain is made, and to that extent, our common law is sound. To say, however, that a firm offer will not be given effect according to its terms, is something quite different." Sharp, Promissory Liability (pt. 1), 7 U. Chi. L. Rev. 10 (1939). The Sixth Interim Report of the English Law Revision Commission (1937) has expressed itself (p. 22) in favor of making the firm offer irrevocable even if orally made, provided it contains a definite time limit. Statutory changes enacted in New York since 1941 require a writing to dispense with consideration. See p. 549 infra. For the English law, see G.H. Treitel, The Law of Contract 99-100 (5th ed. 1974). In the case of international sales of goods, the rulehas been expressly abolished by legislation. ULFIS Art. 5(2). See Farnsworth, Mutuality of Obligation in Contract Law, 3 Dayton L. Rev. 271 (1978).


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February 24, 2015 Notes - Dickinson v. Dodds Notes - Dickinson v. Dodds

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