Are there different kinds of contract acceptance?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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There are three types of acceptance including express acceptance, implied acceptance, and conditional acceptance. In the world of merchant agreements, formal contracts are sometimes too tedious for a busy schedule. Instead, merchants, contractors, and buyers have developed these types of acceptance of a contract. While all of these methods are valid, it is always best to eventually sign a formal contract to ensure that there is something binding in case of a dispute.

Whether it’s a handshake or signing the contract, under express contract law, express acceptance is exactly as it sounds, you expressly give your consent for the contract. Examples of expressly accepting a contract include your signature, orally agreeing to the offer, shaking hands, or even exchanging business cards with the offer and accepted terms. Express acceptance is the most obvious and leaves no room for doubt that the offer was accepted.

Implied acceptance typically only happens when a report has already been set between you and your customers. Implied acceptance typically does not involve a contract, but rather is oral and action-based in nature. For instance, if you’ve always hired the same person to paint your house every two years and you stop by their shop and tell them that it’s been two years, they may just simply show up and paint your house, knock on the door, and you pay them. This was implied acceptance of the offer. The customer offered to let the painter paint his house again, and the painter accepted by going over to his house and painting it. Remember that implied acceptance is typically only considered valid if you have a previous history of this type of acceptance already with this person.

Conditional acceptance places an expectation on how the offer is accepted. The most common example of conditional acceptance is placing a time condition on the agreement. For instance, “I accept your offer to buy my TV that I placed on Craigslist, as long as you pick it up within the next hour.” You are placing a condition on the sale. If the person does not come within the next hour, under conditional acceptance, the offer is no longer valid.

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