Anything I can do (Part 5)

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Only two more segments of “I’m a nerdy bar examinee quizshow” left! Then we can get back to my rants, raves, and quote-y stylings.

An antique lover spotted a beautiful early American bedroom ensemble that included several pieces. There was negotiating over the price, but no agreement. On April 3, the shop owner and antique lover signed a statement whereby the shop owner offered to sell the ensemble (describing each piece by lot number) if the parties agreed upon a price on or before April 12. On April 6, the shop owner sent a letter to the antique lover, telling her that she could have the ensemble for $22,000. Also on April 6, the antique lover sent a letter to the shop owner telling him that she was willing to pay him $22,000 for the ensemble. Both parties received the letters on April 7.

Without assuming any additional facts, which of the following statements is most correct as of April 8?

a) The shop owner and the antique lover had a valid contract from the moment the letters of April 6 were mailed.
b) A contract exists between the shop owner and the antique lover, because the shop owner – a merchant – sent the antique lover an offer in writing.
c) A contract exists because the crossing offers were identical and received before April 12.
d) No contract exists because of a lack of mutual assent.

(Good luck! Answer’s in the comments)

  1. Best answer: d

    The facts tell us that the owner and antique lover knew which items they were agreeing on and that they seemingly agreed on price. However, the key is something called the Objective Theory of Mutual Assent. Knowing that legal term isn’t required to get this answer correct, but it helps because the definition is as follows: a contract requires an objective manifestation of mutual assent. So even though each party obviously assents (agrees to) the offer of the other party, there is no outward manifestation of that. The other answer choices provide enticing alternative legal rules (a = The Mailbox Rule; b = The UCC’s Firm Offer Rule; c = a common law “crossing offers” doctrine), but none are technically correct.

    I like this question because it’s a good example of how the bar exam is totally inapplicable to the real world. If this actually played out in the real world, the parties would call each other up and laugh about how they were both thinking the same thing (incidentally, that would then be an objective manifestation of assent). Or that antique lover would bring in a check for the money, thus accepting the owner’s offer by letter. Or each party would act on the letters and a contract by conduct would result. Instead, apparently these guys just looked dumbfoundedly at the other’s letter in front of him/her and never spoke of the subject again. Very realistic.

  2. D for “Dang! Ceaz!” I’ll be honest…I had to look up the definition of mutual assent before I answered. So I’ll only give myself half credit for this question.

    I have to comment on the freaky sexual undertones of these questions. “Antique lover?” Maybe my mind is just in the gutter, but when I read those words, my first thought was definitely, ‘Very old sexual partner spots a beautiful bedroom set… OH! they meant a lover of antiques! Well, that’s different.’

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