Difference between AN OFFER and an INVITATION TO TREAT
An invitation to treat is to be distinguished from an offer as it merely indicates a willingness to deal but does not display an intention to be bound. Broadly speaking, an invitation to treat is an action by one party which may appear to be a contractual offer but which is actually inviting others to make an offer whilst an offer is an expression of willingness to contract on certain terms, made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed, the “offeree”.
The indication of willingness to enter into a contract may manifest itself in a variety of ways. The indication can be contained in a letter, a newspaper, a faxed document, an e-mail or it may even be inferred from someone’s behavior.
An offer is something which must be done or refrained from being done which is accepted to become a contract. For example, you offer your car for sale for a price say for $9,000.00, your offer to the world at large is $9,000.00 consideration for your car. Your term is simply if you give me $9,000.00 you can have my car.
An invitation to treat simply means an invitation to make offers, so using the example above; if instead of the price you just said – “offers considered” that become an invitation to treat, then you are in a position to accept or reject offers.
It is important to distinguish between an offer and an invitation to treat. An invitation to treat is a way of saying, “Make me an offer. I am willing to trade.” In the real world, it also sets the price of the offer that the seller is likely to accept. It is not in itself an offer, subject to acceptance. The display of goods in a shop, advertisements on a shop window, and “for sale” ads in the paper are all invitation to treat. A vendor is not required to accept the offers that come as a result of that invitation, and may impose additional conditions when forming the actual...