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Is there a valid formation of contract

Customer Question
On day there was an...
On day there was an advertisement in the national newspaper stating that:
“Excellent rare Bonsai trees are available at low prices, £20.00 each, first person willing to pay for the whole lot secures them. Minimum ages of the trees are 5 years and free from any disease. Sale starts on 21/5/09 at 9am. Interested, call 020722255544 or No.1 Bonsai Street, London W1 1WW.”
John saw the advertisement and unilaterally decided to buy the whole lot. He sets of early morning on 21.5.09 to be the first person in order to secure the trees. John was the first person but the seller, Silly told him that the trees were sold to Sally when she called in on 19.5.09.
John was very upset and wanted to sue Silly for breach of contract.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Business Law
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Answered in 29 minutes by:
6/1/2009
Business Lawyer: Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney replied 8 years ago
Richard - Bizlaw
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 10,703
Experience: 30 years of corporate, litigation and international law
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You do not have a basis for a suit. the ad can be read to mean whoever says they will buy the lot first gets them whether or not that occurs before the date the sale starts. Only if John had called and committed to purchase pror ot Sally making the commitment to purchase.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Hi there,
thank you for your reply, however, I just need a little bit more clarification..
your answer makes absulute sence, but my doubt is that John has UNILATERALLY Decided to buy the lot.
I am not sure if there is a unilateral contract or not. Or simply there is no valid formation of a contract. Can this Ad be treated as an invitation to treat?
Many thanks
Business Lawyer: Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney replied 8 years ago
This is not a unilateral contract. The ad constitutes an offer to sell under specified conditions. Until John communicates his acceptance of the offer and the conditions of the offer, no contract has been formed. There must be both an offer and a communicated acceptance. Without the communication of the acceptance by act or deed, no contract is formed.
Richard - Bizlaw
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 10,703
Experience: 30 years of corporate, litigation and international law
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Hi there,
thanks again... I accept this answer...

I have another question relating to my first question. Assuming that John had bought the lot, and found out later that 75% of the trees are 4 1/2 years old and not 5 years as it said in the ad, also 5% of them were affected with a disease (in the ad, it states they are desease free). John wants to return the trees but Silly refuses, stating that is neither here nor there and 5% is so slight and that John can not the whole lot.
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