On 1 March, Ben, a science lecturer at a local university (NWK), sent a letter by post to Ian, a local astronomy expert, inviting Ian to speak to Ben’s class. The letter said:
“I will pay you $1,000 to l speak to my class on 1 June. Please respond to me by 1 May if you accept.”
Ian replied with a letter to Ben that he posted on 1 April. It said:
“I would be thrilled to speak to your class on June 1. I will see you then.”
The next day, on 2 April, Ian became aware of a better speaking opportunity at a local business seminar tentatively scheduled for 1 June. He immediately sent the following email to Ben:
“I would have enjoyed speaking to your class on 1 June. However, I’m expecting a better offer for that day, so I must decline. Thank you.”
Ben received the email immediately. Later that day, Ben identified another potential speaker, Sharon, who was listed on the webpage of another university nearby (SWK) as a staff member with expertise in astronomy. He clicked on her email address and sent her a message in which he offered Sharon $1,000 to speak to his class. Sharon accepted by email the next day. Neither Ben nor Sharon realised the staff list had her listed as having astronomy expertise; she was actually an expert in astrology. Ben expected an astronomy lecture, but Sharon incorrectly believed the desired topic was astrology.
On 3 April, Ben received Ian’s letter and threw it away. Ian was not selected to talk to the people at the business seminar. On 1 June, both Ian and Sharon showed up to speak to Ben’s class. Ben told Ian that he was not needed. Ian angrily told Ben that he would sue for breach of contract.
After Ian left, Sharon began setting up her astrology charts and announced that she would provide free fortune telling after her lecture. Ben realized that Sharon was not an astronomy expert and told her he would not pay her for an astrology lecture. Sharon angrily told Ben, “I’m going to sue you and get my money.” Ben responded, “You’re not an astronomy expert as I thought and, besides, our deal wasn’t in writing.”
- Ian brings a claim for breach of contract against Ben. Discuss whether Ian and Ben formed an enforceable contract and whether Ian is likely to succeed with his claim. (15 marks)
- Sharon brings a claim for breach of contract against Ben. Discuss whether Ben has any defences to the claim and whether Sharon is likely to succeed with her claim. (15 marks)
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