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ERRINGTON v ERRINGTON AND WOODS

General Principle:


When someone has begun to carry out the terms of a unilateral offer and keeps on doing so, the unilateral offer cannot be retracted.


Name:


Errington v Errington and Woods [1952] 1 KB 290


Facts:


Mr Errington purchased a house for both his son and daughter-in-law (Ms. Woods) to live in. He paid £250 in cash and borrowed the remaining £500 from a building society. The house was registered in the name of the father. However, he said that as long as they paid the regular instalments on the mortgage, he would transfer the house to them as soon as it had been repaid. Fifteen years after the father died, his estate brought action to seek possession of the house.


Ratio:


The Court of Appeal in Errington v Errington and Woods held that a unilateral contract existed. Woods and Errington were not obliged to keep paying out money, but if they did so because the father was obliged to transfer the house to them in accordance with his promise, that was acceptable.


Application:


Denning LJ said obiter that: “a unilateral contract cannot be revoked once the potential acceptor has started to perform their obligations under the contract arrangements.”



Errington v Errington and Woods

Analysis:


Once Elijah notifies Brett of Alan’s revocation prior to the start of the walk, Brett consults his email and sees the message from Alan cancelling the reward, but decides to continue. The law faculty’s offers can certainly be withdrawn, but it is unfair if the law faculty could withdraw their offer just before Brett "accepts" the offer through embarking on the task. The general principle is when someone has begun to carry out the terms of a unilateral offer and keeps on doing so; the unilateral offer cannot be retracted. In Errington v Errington and Woods [1952] 1 All ER 149, Mr Errington purchased a house for both his son and daughter-in-law (Ms. Woods) to live in. He said that as long as Ms.Woods paid the regular instalments on the mortgage, he would transfer the property to them on completion of instalments. Fifteen years later, the father died, his widow brought action to seek possession of the house. The Court of Appeal held that a unilateral contract existed. Woods and Errington were not obliged to keep paying out money, but if they did so, the father was obliged to transfer the house to them in accordance with his promise, that was acceptable. Denning LJ affirmed:


“a unilateral contract cannot be revoked once the potential acceptor has started to perform their obligations under the contract arrangements.”


Therefore it seems if the court consider Brett buying equipment and preparing of the race as acceptance then revocation at the start line will not be possible (McRae, D. M. "Revocation of Unilateral Contracts." Otago L. Rev. 1 (1965): 149).



Errington v Errington and Woods


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