When I arrived home that day, I found that she already dropped off the phone, Immediately, I called her to tell her that I did not actually want to purchase the item. Angrily, she told me that I still owed her the money because we had an agreement, Is it possible that a contract was formed through our chat?
For a contract to be formed there must be an offer and an acceptance between parties. However, while there are generally no prescribed formalities for a contract to be formed there are certain requirements that must be met for the contract to be legally binding on the parties involved. As such, a WhatsApp message can be construed as a valid contract if the relevant requirements for the creation of a binding contract have been met:
A valid offer and acceptance
Has an offer been made with the intention of creating a legally binding contract? In turn, has this offer been accepted by the other party? The party making the offer must intend on being bound by the offer once it is accepted.
Consensus between the parties
When the one party clearly accepts the other party’s offer, then they both have consensus to be bound by the agreement. An offer can be accepted through express consent (writing or verbally) or the conduct of the parties.
Capacity to contract
This means that both parties must have the requisite legal capacity to contract. In South Africa this generally means that you need to be over the age of 18.
As such, if an agreement that is lawful (i.e. not against the law) is created by fulfilling the above requirements and the obligations are able to be performed; then the agreement will be legally binding. This is important to bear in mind when conducting affairs over WhatsApp (or any other digital platforms).
In this scenario, it can be established that a binding agreement has not been established because the offer was not actually accepted.
For any assistance on these relevant issues please feel free to contact Tuckers attorneys on 011 897 1900, 076 777 1920 (afterhours) or email@example.com.
Article contributed by Ra’eesah Akoon of Tuckers Inc.