The importance of carefully managing your contract offers

Jun 26, 2024

When you send a signed agreement to the other side, you are making an offer. The other party just needs to accept, and you've got a binding contract.

But what if they don't accept right away? What if weeks pass with no signature or communication about the status?

These situations don't happen often, but they have happened to my companies and clients many times over the years.

The general rule is that if the offer doesn't include a time limit, the other side has a reasonable amount of time to accept.

That lack of clarity doesn't work for many businesses. They need to know ASAP if there is a signed deal or not. They can't move on to Plan B while waiting to see if the counterparty does or does not accept the offer.

Worry not. You are not helpless in these situations. Because if you made the offer, you usually can withdraw the offer. There are some exceptions (aren't there always?), such as firm offers between merchants and when the counterparty detrimentally relied on the offer being open.

To do so, just notify the other side that the offer is withdrawn and no longer may be accepted.

To avoid this mess and figuring out how the so-called mailbox rule applies, add a deadline for acceptance and that the offer is automatically withdrawn without notice if not returned by that date.

Stay on top of all your offers and be ready to withdraw the unaccepted ones.

What other steps do you take to manage what offers are out in the world?

PS - I think Marty has a strong case that the ladder offer had already been accepted by his action of using it to get to the roof. His claim is further strengthened through his detrimental reliance on the ladder. Of course, we don't know all the facts so it could be that Bob (the ladder lender) had conditions on his offer that Marty did not meet. 

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