A contract is a legally binding voluntary agreement that is entered into when one person makes an offer and the other accepts it. There may be a preliminary meeting before an offer is formally made. These pre-contract submissions are repeatedly referred to as “processing invitations,” “requests for information” or “statements of intent.” An invitation to negotiate is not an offer. An invitation to negotiate is only a preliminary meeting or an invitation from one party to negotiate or make an offer to the other party. A school that asks a teacher whether or not the teacher wishes to continue teaching at the school in the next school year is a preliminary meeting and not an offer that could be accepted. If the teacher has stated that he wishes to continue teaching, a formal offer could be made. An invitation to treatment (or an invitation to a bargain in the United States) is a term in contract law that comes from the Latin phrase invitatio ad offerendum, which means “invite the offer.” According to Professor Andrew Burrows is an invitation to treatment: In general, advertising are not offers, but invitations to treatment, so that the person who advertises is not obliged to sell. In Partridge v Crittenden 1 WLR 1204, an accused accused of “selling protected birds” – bramblefinch chickens and chickens he had put up for sale in a newspaper – did not offer to sell them. Lord Parker CJ stated that there was no commercial interest in advertising being an offer, since the person advertising is in a situation where he would be contractually obliged to sell more goods than he actually owned. The tendering process is a controversial subject. In Spencer/Harding, the defendants offered to sell shares in the offer, but the court found that there was no promise to sell to the highest bidder, but only an invitation to offers that they could accept or refuse as they pleased.
In exceptional circumstances, a tender may be an offer, such as in Harvela Investments/Royal Trust of Canada , where the court found that the tender was an offer accepted by the person who made the highest bid because the defendants had expressed an intention to accept the highest bid.