An agreement implies that a mutual consensus of two (or more) parties over a specific matter exists – also known as a “consensus ad idem”. As such all agreement can be deduced down to an interaction of an “offer” and its expressed “acceptance”– either or both of which may be based on words or on conduct.
An “offer” can be made towards a person or persons, or it can be more general and be expressed to the world. However, a legally binding agreement can exist only if and when a particular person (or persons) “accept” the offer. To illustrate this, Ian offered £50 to buy Ahmed’s old bike, the contract is created when Ahmed accepts Ian’s offer.
Furthermore, it is not sufficient to simply make an offer, but there also must be a communication of the offer to the acceptor. While there are not ironclad definitions of what constitutes proper communication, in order for an agreement to become legally binding, an offer must be clear and unequivocal. As such, a statement made during negotiations, for example, may not always be considered an “offer”. Finally, the concept of “acceptance” suggests that the accepting party knows of the offer at the time of “acceptance”. With these parameters in mind, it becomes critical at times to determine the precise moment of “acceptance”.