Mirror Image Rule - Explained
An Acceptance of an Offer to Contract Must Accept the Offer As Is
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What is acceptance of an offer?
Acceptance of a contract is the assent of the offeree to the demands contained in the offerors offer. Acceptance of the contract varies depending upon whether the contract is unilateral or bilateral. An offeree accepts a bilateral contract by making the return promise demanded by the offeror. An offeree accepts a unilateral contact by undertaking the performance demanded by the offeror. The acceptance of an offer must meet a specific standard based upon the type of contract and the governing law. The standards that a specific type of contract must meet are as follows:
What is the Mirror-Image Rule?
Contracts that are not primarily for the sale of goods may be governed by rules derived from the Restatement of Contracts. The Restatement proposes the mirror-image rule for acceptance of an offer. This rule states that the acceptance of an offer must be exactly as demanded by the offeror. That is, the acceptance must mirror the offer. If the offeree adds new terms to the acceptance, it is not really an acceptance. Acceptance with different or additional terms constitutes a counteroffer.
- Example: I offer to perform a service for you at a given fee. You reply that my prices are too high and that you want a 15% discount. You changed the terms of the consideration (the price), which is a material aspect of the offer. As such, you have effectively rejected my offer, as your attempted acceptance was not the mirror image of my offer.
Next Article: UCC - Acceptance of an Offer to Contract Back to: CONTRACT LAW
Why do you think about the mirror-image rule? Does it concern you that a minor deviation in an acceptance can effectively reject a contract? Why or why not? What if this was not the intent of the parties at the time of entering into the agreement?
Kate offers to paint Rogers house for $2,500. Roger attempts to accept the offer by saying, Great. But, you have to paint the storage shed in the backyard as well. Kate does not respond and decides to take a different painting job. Roger is angry, particularly when he learns that the next closest offer is twice as expensive. He wants to sue Kate for her failure to perform. What is the likely result?
- The mirror image principle stipulates that for any offer to be accepted, the party to whom the offer is made must accept the terms presented as they are. Once the offeree makes any suggestion to change the terms of the offer, the original offer ceases to exist. This means that the offeree rejected the original offer. Because Kate, the original offeror, decided not to accept the new terms presented by Roger, the offeree, then there is no acceptance and, thus, no legal binding agreement between the parties.
- What is a Unilateral Contract vs a Bilateral Contract?
- What is an Express Contract vs an Implied Contract?
- What are the requirements to form a Contract (Offer, Acceptance, Consideration)?
- What is an Enforceable Contract vs. a Valid Contract?
- What is a Void Contract vs a Voidable Contract?
- Adhesion Contract
- What is Mental Capacity to contract?
- What is the requirement of a Lawful Purpose?
- What are common types of Voidable Contract?
- When does an offer to contact terminate?
- Counterparty Definition
- Mirror Image Rule?
- Rule for Sale of Goods
- Silence is Not Acceptance?
- Mailbox Rule
- Shrink-wrap Agreement Definition
- Click-Wrap Agreement Definition
- What is Consideration?
- What is Promissory Estoppel?
- When is a contract required to be in writing Statute of Frauds?
- What type of writing satisfies the statute of frauds?
- Exceptions to the Statute of Fraud
- Documents Under Seal
- Who Can Sign Contracts on Behalf of a Company?
- E-Sign Act
- Privity of Contract
- Who are third-party beneficiaries to a contract?
- What is assignment and delegation of a contract?
- What is Performance, Substantial Performance, and Breach of a contract?
- What is performance of a Divisible Contract?
- When is a party's duty of performance discharged?
- What is tender performance of a contract?
- What are Impossibility and Impracticability
- What is a Frustration of Purpose?
- Acceleration Clause (Contracts) Definition
- What is Efficient Breach?
- Organization of a Contract
- Contract Representations & Warranties
- Contract Covenants
- What rules does a court follow in interpreting a contract?
- What is the Parol Evidence Rule?
- What is a complete integration vs a partial integration?
- Exceptions to the Parol Evidence Rule
- Patent and Latent Ambiguity in a Contract
- Service Level Agreement Definition
- Offtake Agreement