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HARVEY v FACEY [1893] AC 552 - PC

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HARVEY v FACEY [1893] AC 552 - PC

PRIVY COUNCIL

HARVEY v FACEY [1893] AC 552

LORD MORRIS:

… The appellants are solicitors carrying on business in partnership at

    Kingston, and it appears that in the beginning of October, 1891,

    negotiations took place between the respondent L M Facey and the

    Mayor and Council of Kingston for the sale of the property in question …

[O]n the 7th of October, 1891, L M Facey was travelling in the train from

    Kingston to Porus, and that the appellants caused a telegram to be sent

    after him from Kingston addressed to him ‘on the train for Porus,’ in the following words: ‘Will you sell us Bumper Hall Pen? Telegraph lowest

    cash price - answer paid;’ that on the same day L M Facey replied by

    telegram to the appellants in the following words: ‘Lowest price for

    Bumper Hall Pen ?900’; that on the same day the appellants replied to the

    last-mentioned telegram by a telegram addressed to L M Facey ‘on train

    at Porus’ in the words following: ‘We agree to buy Bumper Hall Pen for

    the sum of nine hundred pounds asked by you. Please send us your title

    deed in order that we may get early possession.’

… The first telegram asks two questions. The first question is as to the

    willingness of L M Facey to sell to the appellants; the second question

    asks the lowest price … L M Facey replied to the second question only,

    and gives his lowest price. The third telegram from the appellants treats

    the answer of L M Facey stating his lowest price as an unconditional

    offer to sell to them at the price named. Their Lordships cannot treat the

    telegram from L M Facey as binding him in any respect, except to the

    extent it does by its terms, viz, the lowest price. Everything else is left

    open, and the reply telegram from the appellants cannot be treated as an

    acceptance of an offer to sell to them; it is an offer that required to be

    accepted by L M Facey. The contract could only be completed if L M

    Facey had accepted the appellant’s last telegram.

It has been contended for the appellants that L M Facey’s telegram should

    be read as saying ‘yes’ to the first question put in the appellants’ telegram,

but there is nothing to support that contention. L M Facey’s telegram

    gives a precise answer to a precise question, viz, the price. The contract

    must appear by the telegrams, whereas the appellants are obliged to

    contend that an acceptance of the first question is to be implied. Their

    Lordships are of opinion that the mere statement of the lowest price at

    which the vendor would sell contains no implied contract to sell at that

    price to the persons making the inquiry …

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