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Caroline Gibbs v Lakeside Developments Ltd [2016] EWHC 2203

In Caroline Gibbs v Lakeside Developments Ltd [2016] EWHC 2203, the High Court has considered whether a conflicting email and attachment constituted acceptance or a counter offer.

Ms Gibbs offered to settle a dispute before an appeal hearing in return for the sum of £90,000 subject to its offer being accepted by a specific date and the monies being paid on a specific date. Lakeside Developments (“Lakeside”) emailed a response which started with the introductory phrase “[Lakeside] accepts your offer.” However, Lakeside also attached a draft consent order which specified a date for payment which was several weeks later than that stipulated by Ms Gibbs.

Lakeside claimed that it had accepted Ms Gibbs’s offer; its initial statement had been unequivocal, the draft order was merely a proposed formal document which could have been varied or rectified. If the draft consent order had not been attached or had been sent later then, from the email alone, it would have been clear that Ms Gibbs’s offer was accepted. The court rejected this argument, holding that there was no consensus on a key part of the package offered by Ms Gibbs and so Lakeside’s email was a counter offer.

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