In an oral contract, can a seller accept by silence a condition I put on a car purchase?

Asked about 1 year ago - Paterson, NJ

Suppose my colleague offers to sell me his car for $5,000. I say I will accept it provided he fixes the AC. He then takes the $5,000 and delivers the car to me. Our agreement was oral, not in writing.
The next day, I find that the AC is still broken. I then protest, stating that my acceptance was conditioned on his fixing the AC. He says he never accepted this condition. Can I argue that he implicitly accepted my condition by silence? If so, will a court find that fixing the AC is a legally-enforceable condition?
The defendant does not deny that I said that my acceptance was conditioned on fixing the AC, but he denies accepting the condition. He said something to the point of “Okay, $5,000 it is,” but never said anything about fixing the AC.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Daniel A Levy

    Contributor Level 13

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    Lawyers agree

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    Answered . If you would like legal advice about your specific situation, then you will need to retain an attorney. But honestly, it's probably cheaper to fix the AC yourself rather than hire a lawyer to sue the seller for you.

    In any event, here is just some basic principals on contracts. Most contracts do not need to be in writing. If there is a dispute about what the terms of the contract are, a judge/jury would need to hear the facts and make a determination. If the trial reveals that the condition about the AC was part of the contract, then it is just as good as if written down. The seller makes a valid offer if the offer includes sufficient required terms (like price, quantity, identification of goods, etc.). Depending on the type of contract and the relationship of the parties, the offer may need many specifics, of not many at all. If the buyer accepts, then they have a deal. If the buyer adds any material condition or changes to the offer, then it is considered that the offer is rejected and the BUYER is now making a new, counter-offer to the seller. If the seller accepts, then they now have a deal that includes everything in the counter-offer. The seller cannot accept the counter-offer and renege on the conditions, or else he will be in breach of contract.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

    This posting is just general legal INFORMATION and not legal ADVICE. Only your attorney can provide legal advice.... more
  2. Aneliya M. Angelova

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

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    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, there is such a concept "acceptance" by silence or conduct. Your questionsreminds of a law school essay fact pattern. Argue that the fixing the AC was a condition precedent to the contract. In other words, there is a contract only if he fixes the condition first. You can file in small claims court.

    This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
  3. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Yes

  4. Robert J Adams Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . While is might be cheaper to fix the A/C, the technical answer is you made a counter office and by taking the payment it was conditioned up the defendant to fix the A/C. This fact situation could be a test question in a law school Contract class. Good luck

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