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Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl [1983] 2 AC 34

Contract Law – Offer and Acceptance

Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl [1983] 2 AC 34 is a key case within the contract law degree module for the Bachelor of Laws LLB programme at university. The case concerns offer and acceptance for the formation of a contract. This case elaborates on the postal rule, which was established in Adams v Lindsell (1818) 106 ER 250.

Facts:

In this case the claimant Brinkibon Ltd was buying steel from the defendant Stahag Stahl. Brinkibon sent their acceptance by telex, which was an instantaneous method of communication. Brinkibon wished to sue for breach of contract.

Issue:

Does the postal rule apply to instantaneous communication?

Held:

The claim for breach of contract by Brinkibon was dismissed. It was decided that the postal rule does not apply to instantaneous communication, although this would be decided on a case by case basis due to the possibility of the communication being affected by many factors outside the parties control. Lord Wilberforce elaborated on these factors stating that the machines facilitating the communication could be operated by third parties potentially causing error, or the messages may be sent or received out of office hours.

OSCOLA reference this article/case: LawLessons, ‘Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl [1983] 2 AC 34’ (LawLessons, 5th January 2021) <https://lawlessons.co.uk/brinkibon-ltd-v-stahag-stahl-1983-2-ac-34> accessed 24th July 2021

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