Is Jennifer’s revocation effective? In contract law, revocation can be described as the termination of an offer. Revocation occurred when an offer is nullified by the offeror which he/she has made an offer earlier to the offeree. The general rule of revocation was established in Payne v Cave’s case and it has stated that an offer can be revoked at any time before acceptance takes place.
However, under the principle which was determined by Byrne v Van Tienhoven, the revocation must be communicated effectively directly or indirectly to the offeree before acceptance.
In this case, it has shown that an offer was made by Jennifer to Nicolas for all her 12 pieces of collection of sculptures as she mentioned ‘she would sell the goods to him for RM28,000 and that she’d keep her offer open for five days, until the close of business on 19th of October.’
This case is relatively similar to Byrne v Van Tienhoven. In Byrne v Van Tienhoven’s case, it was held that the contract was made on the 11th of October 1880 when plaintiff sent a telegram and thus, the defendant’s revocation was too late and it was not effective until it was on 20th of October 1880. Therefore, judgment was given for the plaintiffs. In this case, on 17th of October Nicolas wrote a letter unconditionally agreeing to buy the sculptures for RM 28,000 which shown his acceptance, according to the postal rule. Thus, a contract between Jennifer and Nicolas were formed on the 17th of October.
Nevertheless, it shows that the revocation of Jennifer was not effective until it was received on 21st of October when Nicolas read the e-mail and this is supported by Section 21 (b) Electronic Commerce Act 1950. The revocation of Jennifer was too late as the contract was made when Nicolas sent the letter on the 17th October.
Under Section 21 (b) of Electronic Commerce Act 2006, if the addressee has not designated an information system for purposes of receiving electronic messages (including revocations), the communication of the electronic message (including acceptance and revocation) is only valid when it comes to the knowledge of the addressee. It comes to the knowledge of the offeror when he/she opens the e-mail.
Thus, Jennifer’s revocation is not valid as a result of Nicolas hadn’t given Jennifer his e-mail address but, Jennifer found the address through some ‘internet searching.’ Nevertheless, she sent Nicolas an e-mail late on 17th of October indicating that the sculptures were no longer available for purchase. As Section 21 (b) of Electronic Commerce Act 2006 stated, when Nicolas arrived home and read the e-mail telling him that Jennifer had changed her mind about selling the sculptures on 21st of October, the communication of the electronic message is only valid when he opens the e-mail. Therefore, Jennifer’s revocation is not effective.
Moreover, Section 5(2) of Contract Act 1950 has stated that acceptance may be revoked at any time before the communication of the acceptance is complete as against the acceptor, but not afterwards. Since communication of the acceptance is complete between Jennifer and Nicolas. Thus, acceptance may not be revoked.