By M.O C.Horgan OBE, TD, DL, MSc, C.Eng, FIEE and F.R.Roulston DLC, C.Eng, MIEE

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It might produce a low price and the manager appreciates too late that an essential feature has not been included. To make his task less onerous— and still maintain some comparability between tenders—his enquiry should either: (a) insist all tenderers bid for the actual work as set out in the enquiry, before they add their own second tender price, explaining how their scheme adds to (or falls short of) the Employer’s; this solution breaks down, of course, if the contractor is simply not organized to follow the Employer’s scheme (he may not have the requisite machinery, for example), and consequently he is prevented from bidding a meaningful price; or (b) include a pro-forma with the enquiry on which the contractor lists all deviations from the Employer’s scheme and includes the relative merits of his substituted proposals.

It is the applicant who makes the offer, and the advertiser who agrees to deal and makes the sale. Neither he nor the shopkeeper is obliged to deal with any customer who presents himself, nor to settle for the price he has signalled in his invitation to treat. Often such a situation is difficult to distinguish from a true offer, capable of being accepted and forming a contract. The intent must be thought through carefully; perhaps the safest guide is whether the so called offer has been made to an individual person or firm, or whether it is in the form of a general broadcast to the world at large.

Nowadays the same sort of pre-discussion is met with in some types of two-stage tendering, in which a preliminary enquiry is broadcast and a subsequent enquiry in accordance with the second party’s wishes is then issued by the Employer. Excessive post-negotiation is avoided. 4 Acceptance A contract is formed only when there is complete mutual agreement between the parties. This is often demonstrated (not only to the parties themselves) when one of them (usually the Contractor) makes an offer to the other (the Employer) CONTRACTS 35 which is unconditionally accepted.

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