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SHUEY v US

General Principle:


A unilateral offer can be revoked by publishing the revocation in the same method by which the offer was issued. All of the offerees do not need to read the revocation for it to be valid.


Name:


Shuey v US (1875) 92 US 73 (persuasive judgement only, not binding)


Facts:


In Shuey v US the US authorities placed an advertisement in various newspapers displaying a certain amount of money that would be paid as a reward in exchange for information leading to the arrest of a number of criminals. Later, the President of USA released a proclamation that cancelled the reward, and once again this was publicized in the newspapers. After this advert had been published, Shuey (who had seen the original advertisement but did not see that the ransom had been revoked) identified one of the wanted men and claimed the reward.


Ratio:


The Supreme Court held that, as the offer had been made through a general advert to the world at large, as opposed to him personally, he ought to have realised that it could be withdrawn in the same way.


Application:


Where there is an offer that can be accepted through a person’s conduct, it is not clear what rules deal with the withdrawal. This is especially so with rewards and "challenges" (i.e I will pay £1000 to the first person here that cycles from London to Liverpool).


Shuey v US

Analysis:


Brett, a law student, sees the notice that day and decides to take part. He buys a new pair of walking boots at a cost of £50 and starts preparing. On the 2nd March, a decision is taken at the law faculty meeting to cancel the reward. To withdraw the offer Alan sends an email to all law students telling them that the reward is cancelled. The first issue here is whether the revocation is effective? The general principle here is an offer can be withdrawn at any time before it has been accepted. Anything said or done to accept the offer after it has been withdrawn has absolutely no effect whatsoever. In Routledge v Grant Grant (defendant) made an offer to rent Routledge's (complainant’s) building. A definitive answer had to be provided to Routledge within the space of six weeks. After three weeks had passed, Grant retracted his offer. However, just within the six-week period, Routledge decided to accept it. The court held that, in this case, the acceptance had come too late. He reasoned that, if one of the parties had six weeks to accept an offer, the other had six weeks to put an end to it. One party cannot be bound without the other. Therefore the withdrawal here by the law faculty needs to be communicated to Bert. This does not become effective until this kind of communication to withdraw is received. Here Brett is busy planning his route and has turned off both his phone and his computer so he can concentrate and does not see the email. Here it may well be that Bert has no Knowledge of the revocation and thus it will not be effective. Moreover, where a unilateral offer is made (if published in the Gazette) must be revoked in the same way. In Shuey v US (persuasive judgement only, not binding), the Supreme Court held that, as the offer had been made through a general advert to the world at large as opposed to him personally, he ought to have realised that it could be withdrawn in the same way. Thus because the offer has been accepted through Bret’s conduct, it is not clear what rules deal with the withdrawal, but the offer should be withdrawn in the same way it was advertised.



Shuey v US


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