Byrne & Co v Leon Van Tienhoven & Co

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Byrne v Van Tienhoven
Hughes telegraph.jpg
Court High Court Common Pleas Division
Full case name Byrne & Co v Leon Van Tienhoven & Co
Citation(s) [1880] 5 CPD 344
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Lindley J
revocation, postal rule

Byrne & Co v Leon Van Tien Hoven & Co [1880] 5 CPD 344 is a leading English contract law case on the issue of revocation in relation to the postal rule. In it Lindley J of the High Court Common Pleas Division ruled that an offer is only revoked by direct communication with the offeree, and that the postal rule does not apply in revocation; while simply posting a letter counts as a valid acceptance, it does not count as valid revocation.


Van Tienhoven & Co posted a letter from their office in Cardiff to Byrne & Co in New York City, offering 1000 boxes of tinplates for sale on 1 October. Byrne and Co got the letter on 11 October. They telegraphed acceptance on the same day. But on 8 October Van Tienhoven had sent another letter withdrawing their offer, because tinplate prices had just risen 25%. They refused to go through with the sale.[1]


Lindley J held that the withdrawal of the offer was not effective until it was communicated. His judgment stated the following.

Rule of law[edit]

Revocation of an offer must be received and understood by the offeree before it comes into effect. An acceptance by the offeree before they receive notice of the revocation will be considered valid.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Burrows, A Casebook on Contract (2nd edn Hart 2009) 49
  2. ^ Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (2010) [2006]. "Chapter 4: The formation of contracts part I". Developing contracts in purchasing and supply; the official CIPS course book. CIPS Study matters; Level 4 foundation diploma in purchasing and supply. Stamford, Lincolnshire: Profex publishing. p. 55. ISBN 978-1861241955. 

External links[edit]