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6 Problems of Intention and Consideration in Online Transactions

Michael Furmston, G J Tolhurst, Eliza Mik

From: Contract Formation: Law and Practice (2nd Edition)

Michael Furmston, Gregory Tolhurst

From: Oxford Legal Research Library (http://olrl.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 28 May 2023

Construction of contract — Formation of contract — Interpretation of contract — Performance of contract — Validity of contract

This chapter discusses issues concerning online transactions and points to further challenges. It commences with a broad discussion on the relationship between the two prerequisites of every contract: intention and consideration. It focuses on the difficulty of establishing intention and consideration in circumstances where the context of a particular online interaction is difficult to categorize as either commercial or social. Next, it deals with problems relating to the application of the offer and acceptance model in online transactions. Some basic questions are posed: Is there an offer? If so, what are its contents? Is there an acceptance? If so, when does it become effective? Throughout the discussion it is assumed that each Internet-based communication method creates different problems, and each stage in the online contract formation process faces different technological challenges. Technology, while not changing contract law per se, adds complexity to the traditional analysis. The question is not: do traditional principles apply? but how do they apply?

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