The realisation of agreements
Agreements come in many forms and shapes. For instance, buying a bread in a bakery, renting a residence or a huge business deal. Agreements are made by everyone. They are made every day, sometimes even several times a day.
The (financial) stakes between different agreements can be exceptionally large. An ice-cream is bought without thinking, while a car is usually bought after great consideration and a lot of research. Although these are very different, they are realised in the almost exact same way, namely through the willingness of parties which is in accordance to reach an agreement under certain conditions and for a certain price. There has to be, so to speak, a consensus. Many people think that the signing of an agreement or the paying of money is a requirement for the realisation of an agreement, but this does not have to be the case. An agreement can be made verbally or on paper. The written document only serves as proof, in cases where there is a dispute about the existence and/or the contents of the agreement.
The acceptance of an offer
The law says that parties must show their willingness by making and accepting an offer. Although the offer will usually be made by the seller, this is not a requirement, as a buyer can also make an offer. During negotiations an offer will often be answered by a counter offer, which implies that offers are made back and forth by both parties.
The offer and the acceptance are not bound to any rules in principle. Both can happen verbally, written of nonverbally. The last often happens in auctions, where one raises there hand or nods there head to make a new, higher offer.
Revocable of irrevocable?
Not every offer is the same. Primarily, a distinction can be made between revocable and irrevocable offers. With a revocable offer, the supplier can come back on his decision by revoking it before acceptance. This can not happen with an irrevocable offer. The supplier decides whether his offer is revocable of irrevocable. If the offer does not report anything on this matter, the law is taken under consideration. In that case an offer is irrevocable if it valid for a certain period of time, for instance 7 days. If there is no acceptance period named, then the offer is revocable. If you are in doubt whether to come to an agreement or not, you can formulate a non-binding offer, instead of a revocable one. With a non-binding offer, one maintains the right to withdraw their offer (shortly) after the acceptance. This means you are not bound to anything.
Because the differences discussed are often quite large, in practice it would be clear quite quickly what kind of an offer is on the table. Due to the fact that (nearly) identical situations can not always be judged the same way, some confusion may arise. Nobody will doubt his or her right to question a promotion in a sales flyer, but an advertisement for a house can be seen as an invitation to start negotiations. To avoid uncertainties, it is wise to communicate clearly and be definite in what you want and mean. This way the risk of discussions is minimised drastically.
Before you come to an agreement, it is wise to let an attorney assess it for you. Questions are most welcome, please