An offer is a proposal made by one party to another to enter into a legally binding agreement. The following are the key characteristics of an offer:
Intention to be bound: The offer must demonstrate a clear intention by the offeror to enter into a legally binding agreement with the offeree. This means that the offeror must intend to be legally bound by the terms of the offer if the offeree accepts it.
Definite and certain terms: The offer must contain definite and certain terms that are capable of being understood and accepted by the offeree. The terms must be clear, specific, and unambiguous.
Communication: The offer must be communicated to the offeree. It is not enough for the offer to be made in a private conversation or to a third party. The offer must be communicated directly to the offeree or to their agent.
Invitation to treat: An offer must not be confused with an invitation to treat, which is an invitation to negotiate or make an offer. An invitation to treat is not an offer, but an indication that the person is open to offers.
Revocation: An offer can be revoked at any time before it is accepted, provided that the revocation is communicated to the offeree. Once the offer has been accepted, it becomes a binding contract and cannot be revoked.
Capacity: The offer must be made by a person who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract. For example, a minor or a person of unsound mind cannot make a valid offer.
These characteristics are essential for an offer to be legally binding and enforceable.