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Dahlia v Four Millbank Nominees [1978] Ch 231 Court of Appeal

The claimant wished to purchase some property from the defendant. The terms had been agreed but no written contract had been completed. The defendant promised the claimant that if he arranged for a bankers draft for the deposit to be delivered to the defendant before 10.00 am on the 22nd December he would complete the written contract. The claimant duly complied with the request but the defendant refused to complete. The claimant brought an action stating that unilateral contract existed and the defendant was thus bound by that contract to complete the written contract for the sale of the property.

Held: A unilateral contract did exist.

Goff LJ stated obiter on the issue of revocation of a unilateral offer:-

"Whilst I think the true view of a unilateral contract must in general be that the offeror is entitled to require full performance of the condition which he has imposed and short of that he is not bound, that must be subject to one important qualification, which stems from the fact that there must be an implied obligation on the part of the offeror not to prevent the condition becoming satisfied, which obligation it seems to me must arise as soon as the offeree starts to perform. Until then the offeror can revoke the whole thing, but once the offeree has embarked on performance it is too late for the offeror to revoke his offer."
Back to lecture outline on offer and acceptance in Contract Law