Bigg v Boyd Gibbins [1971] 2 All ER 183

Contract law – Sale of land – Offer and acceptance


As part of the negotiation for the sale of property by the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs wrote to the defendants stating that for a quick sale of the property, they would accept £26,000 on the basis that the initial offer was low and this would cover the plaintiff’s costs of sale. The defendants accepted the offer and requested that the plaintiffs contact the solicitors of the defendant regarding the sale. The plaintiffs acknowledged this and stated that they were pleased that the defendants were purchasing the property. The plaintiff requested a summary judgment and it was found that the letters had constructed a contract between the parties and ordered specific performance. The defendant appealed the decision. 


The key issue for the court was whether the communication between the parties was enough to construct a contractual agreement. A particular matter for the court was the fact that there was little communication between the parties. If a contractual agreement could be constructed, then the court also had to decide whether an order of specific performance was appropriate in the circumstances.


The court dismissed the defendant’s appeal against the order for specific performance and supplemented the decision given by Pennycuick V.C. at the initial hearing. The communication between the parties was deemed to be a binding contract for the purchase of the property and therefore specific performance could be ordered. Having read the letters, the court believed the parties would regard themselves as having struck a bargain for the sale and purchase of the property.