This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Posting a Van for Sale on Facebook Marketplace a Legal Offer?

Question from imim, Is Posting a Van for Sale on Facebook Marketplace a Legal Offer?

Answer from AI:

When it comes to the principles of ‘offer and acceptance’ in contract law, understanding what constitutes a legally binding offer is crucial. In the scenario described, the person running a building firm in Greenwich, London, has posted an advertisement on Facebook Marketplace for the sale of a van. The question is whether this constitutes a legal offer that, once accepted, forms a binding contract.

Understanding Offers in Contract Law

An offer is a clear, unequivocal statement of terms upon which the offeror is prepared to be bound once it is accepted by the offeree. The terms should be specific enough to form the basis of a contract. In the UK, the case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893] is a landmark decision that illustrates the principles of offer and acceptance. In this case, the court held that an advertisement could be considered an offer if it demonstrates an intention to be legally bound upon acceptance.

Advertisements as Invitations to Treat

However, not all advertisements are offers. Most advertisements, including those on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, are considered ‘invitations to treat’. This means they are an invitation for potential buyers to make an offer to purchase, rather than a binding offer in themselves. The case of Partridge v Crittenden [1968] is an example where an advertisement was held to be an invitation to treat. The seller is not obliged to sell to the first person who agrees to the price stated in the advertisement.

Assessing the Facebook Marketplace Post

In the scenario provided, the post on Facebook Marketplace is likely to be considered an invitation to treat. The language used (‘OFFER FOR SALE’) does not necessarily create a legal obligation to sell to anyone who accepts the price of £10,000. Instead, it invites interested parties to make an offer to buy the van, which the seller can then accept or reject.

When an Advertisement Becomes an Offer

There are circumstances where an advertisement might be considered a legal offer. This could occur if the advertisement includes terms that show an intention to be immediately bound by the acceptance of the first person who complies with those terms. For example, if the advertisement had stated “first person to reply with £10,000 can purchase the van,” this could potentially be seen as an offer.

Legal Advice and Next Steps

For individuals in similar situations, it is important to:

  • Clearly distinguish between making an offer and inviting offers (invitations to treat).
  • Use precise language in advertisements to avoid inadvertently creating a binding offer.
  • Understand that acceptance of an offer must be communicated to the offeror to create a binding contract.

If there is any uncertainty about the nature of a transaction or the terms of a contract, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can provide personalized advice based on the specifics of the case.

For more information on the principles of offer and acceptance, you can refer to resources such as the Law Teacher or the UK Government’s guidance on unfair contract terms. These resources can provide general guidelines and self-help information, but they are not a substitute for professional legal advice.

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