[thelist] contract requirements (WAS: MSN locks out non IE browsers)

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Tue Oct 30 14:43:29 CST 2001

At 08:52 PM 10/30/2001, you wrote:
>Or, more technically, until a clear offer and acceptance is in place.
>Accepting the transaction amount is a clear proof
>that acceptance has happened.

Yes, in most contract laws around the world, that is a requirement.

While I'm not an expert on American Contract Law, I do believe that a valid 
contract also requires "consideration" i.e., such as cash, services or goods.

I'm not so sure that contract law would apply in the case of MSN, since it 
is a free service and requires nothing in return from the other party (the 
user). Since there is no "transaction", there is no contract either. If MS 
shut down MSN.com tomorrow or allowed only Opera and nothing else in, 
they're legally allowed to do that.

Here are the requirements for a valid contract:

1) Offer and acceptance (you know what this means)
2) Consideration (cash, services or goods)
3) Competence of parties involved (e.g., an insane person or a minor can't 
enter into a contract)
4) Legality of purpose (e.g., can't have a contract for supplying drugs)

Deke said:
>A business *often* can refuse, but there are certain limitations.
>In the US, for instance, a business cannot refuse on the basis
>of race, religion, or national origin, and in some jurisdictions, on
>the basis of sex, of sexual orientation or of fat.

We're talking discrimination there. It's not the same thing.
If a business makes a certain requirement for doing business and makes it 
uniformly applicable to everyone, then it's usually allowed to do so within 
reasonable boundaries.

For example:
1) "Sorry sir, we require a jacket and tie to enter this restaurant".
2) "We sell only to people who buy at least 10,000 widgets from us"
3) "You need to be at least 18 to enter this place."
4) "We deliver only in USA."

are all legal.

But something like "we don't sell to fat people" is discriminatory. Mind 
you, even something like that can sometimes be reasonable. For example, a 
sports instruction school could require a minimum level of fitness for 
admitting students.

Jeff said:
> ><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><
> > From: Brian King
> >
> > Legally, I believe you will find that a business is
> > obligated to make their product available to anyone
> > who tenders legal currency,
> ><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><
>ianal, but i believe you're wrong on this assumption.  a business can choose
>to not perform a transaction with anybody they want to.  they're not
>obligated simply because the consumer has legal currency and wants to

Jeff is right, Brian. Unless the choice not to do business can be proven as 
discriminatory on sex, religion, etc., the vendor is usually within its 
right not to conduct business with whomever they please. For example, a bar 
can refuse to serve alcohol to a paying customer if the bartender believes 
he has consumed too much.

The obligation only arises once a contract has been made. This can be very 
simple (e.g., "How much for that Coke? $1.10. I'll take it") to a purchase 
order with numerous terms and conditions. But until both parties agree on 
the contract, it's not binding.

Martin has already pointed out the exceptions like the electricity people 
and Telcos.



<<<   *   >>>
Madhu Menon
User Experience Consultant
e-mail: webguru at vsnl.net

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