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General Principle:

If it can be demonstrated that revocation was sent and could have been reasonably read, then that revocation is valid.

Tenax Steamship Co v Owners of the Motor Vessel Brimnes (The Brimnes) [1975] QB 929


Tenax Steamship hired a ship named The Brimnes, under the condition that the payment be prompt and paid in advance. When the payments arrived late, the owners withdrew their offer as they were entitled to under the agreement. They issued this withdrawal via telex, and no one in the office read the telex although the revocation was sent during business hours. The issue arose as to whether revocation had taken place when the telex arrived with the revocation or when it was picked up and read.


The Court of Appeal held the withdrawal took place when it was received in the charterer’s office, not at the point it was read.


If a litigant could prove that his revocation of offer could have been reasonably read, then the offer is officially revoked when it is delivered.

Tenax Steamship Co v Owners of the Motor Vessel Brimnes (The Brimnes)


However, a reason why there is no binding acceptance is because acceptance must communicated. Here Janet listened to this message only on 24th April once she changed her mind to sell. The onus is on Samson to communicate acceptance. This principle is found in the case of Entores v Miles Far East [1955] 2 Q.B. 327 where Lord Denning said:

“Suppose, for instance, that I shout an offer to a man across a river or a courtyard but I do not hear his reply because it is drowned by an aircraft flying overhead. There is no contract at that moment. If he wishes to make a contract, he must wait till the aircraft is gone and then shout back his acceptance so that I can hear what he says. Not until I have his answer am I bound” ([1955] 2 Q.B. 327 at 332).

Another case which could be used in support of this argument (although this concern telex and is not directly relevant) is Tenax Steamship v The Brimnes (The Brimnes) [1974] 3 All ER 88 where Cairns LJ, felt that the sender should not rely on the recipients' reading every communication at once, and that in some circumstances a notice arriving late in the working day might quite legitimately not be “received” until the following morning.


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