In law, to constitute a binding contract between parties, there must be a meeting of the mind often referred to as consensus ad idem. The mutual consent relates to offer and acceptance. While an offer is the expression by a party of readiness to contract on the terms specified by him by which if accepted by the offeree gives rise to a binding contract, the offer only matures into a contract where the offeree signifies a clear and unequivocal intention to accept the offer. An offer can be accepted in such a manner as may be implied, such as doing an act which the person expecting acceptance wants done. On the other hand, an invitation to treat is simply the first step in negotiations between the parties to a contract. It may or may not lead to a definite offer being made by one of the parties to the other in the negotiation. In law therefore, an invitation to treat is thus not an agreement or contract. See Meka BAB Manufacturing Co. Ltd v. ACB Ltd (2004) 2 NWLR (PT. 858) 521. See also Unitab Nigeria Ltd v. Engr. Oyelola and Anor (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 286) 824 @ pp. 829-830; Okugbule and Anor v. Oyegbola and Ors (1990) 4 NWLR (pt. 147) 723; See also Afolabi v. Polymera Industries Ltd (1967) 1 All NLR 144; Nneji v. Zakhem Construction Nig. Ltd (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 994) 297; BFI Group Corporation v. Bureau of Public Enterprises (2012) LPELR-9339 (SC).

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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As I observed a moment ago, the setting aside of a voidable transaction cannot be automatic. If it were, there will then be no difference between a void transaction (whose setting aside is automatic) and a merely voidable transaction (whose setting aside depends on all the equities and surrounding circumstances).

– Oputa, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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In BEST NIGERIA LTD. v. BLACKWOOD HODGE NIGERIA LTD. (2011) LPELR-776(SC) (P.42, Paras.D-E) Per Adekeye, J.S.C. thus: “For a claimant to succeed in an action for breach of contract, he must establish not only that there was a breach but also that there was in existence an enforceable contract which was breached.”

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I am in full support of the submission of appellant’s counsel that it was a misdirection for the lower court in consideration of whether the land, the subject matter in controversy, was bare land or included the structures thereon to have relied on only clauses 3 and 6 in the entire lease agreement to arrive at its conclusion. The learned Justices of the lower court were clearly in error because it is a fundamental rule of construction of instruments that its several clauses, must be interpreted harmoniously so that the various parts of the instrument are not brought in conflict to their natural meaning. Emphasising the same point, the learned authors of Halsbury’s Laws of England. Vo1.12, (4th ed.) para. 1469) stated tersely but pointedly: “The best construction of deeds is to make one part of the deed expound the other, and so make all the parts agree. Effect must, so far as possible, be given to every word and every clause.” The same principle was approved by this Court in Lamikoro Ojokolobo & Ors. v. Lapade Alamu & Anor. (1987) 7 SCNJ 98, (1987) 3 NWLR (pt.61) 339. Surely, a fragmentary interpretation of the various clause of the lease agreement without recourse to the entire Lease Agreement would do violence to the content in which the controversial terms “premises” and “land” were employed and therefore the ascertainment of the parties’ intention in relation to these two terms was bound to be distorted and erroneous and consequently unacceptable.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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585. It was a complete imbalance in the contributions of the parties that enabled the GSPA to be in the form it was. Many reading this judgment will recognise that, although in the present case bribery and corruption were behind that imbalance, it happens in other cases without bribery and corruption but simply where experience, expertise or resources are grossly unequal. This underlines the importance of professional standards and ethics in the work of contract drafting, including in the approach to other parties to the proposed contract. It is why some contributions of pro bono work by leading law firms to support some states challenged for resources (this is not to say, one way or the other, that Nigeria is one of those) is so valuable, in the interests of their, often vulnerable, people. In the present case there were other contracts too, with different counterparties. Their terms and circumstances are not identical, but the overall risk could have been a multiple of the US$11 billion now involved in the present case.

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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A contract can be discharged by breach. A breach of contract means that the party in breach has acted contrary to the terms of the contract either by non-performance or by performing the contract not in accordance with its terms or by a wrongful repudiation of the contract. A party who has paid money to another person for a consideration that has totally failed under a contract is entitled to claim the money back from the other.

– Adekeye JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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The position of the law is that where a statute declares a contract or transaction between parties not only void but also imposes a penalty for violation, that contract or transaction is illegal ab initio. However where the legal sanction is merely to prevent abuse or fraud and no penalty is imposed for the violation of the provision of the statute, the violation is merely voidable and not illegal. See Solanke v. Abed (supra); Oil-field Supply Centre Ltd. v. Johnson (1987) 2 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 58) 265 and Ibrahim v. Osim (1988) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 82) 257 and Pan Bishbilder (Nigeria) Ltd. v. First Bank of Nigeria Ltd (2000) 1 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 642) 684 at 693 where Achike JSC (of blessed memory) clearly stated the position of the law:- “Permit me to digress generally on illegality. It is common ground that illegality and voidness of the loan contract between the parties is the main subject matter of controversy in this appeal. Definition of the term illegal contract has been elusive. The production of clarity of the classification of illegality appears to be almost confounded and rendered intractable primarily because – writers and the Judges have continued to use the terms ‘void’ and ‘illegal’ interchangeably. Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd ed. vol. 8 p. 126 para. 218) states that – ‘A contract is illegal where the subject matter of the promise is illegal or where the consideration or any part of it is illegal.’ Without getting unduly enmeshed in the controversy regarding the definition or classification of that term, it will be enough to say that contracts which are prohibited by statute or at common law, coupled with provisions for sanction (such as fine or imprisonment) in the event of its contravention are said to be illegal. There is however the need to make a distinction between contracts that are merely declared void and those declared illegal. For instance, if the provisions of the law require certain formalities to be performed as conditions precedent for the validity of the transaction without however imposing any penalty for non-compliance, the result of failure to comply with the formalities merely renders the transaction void, but if a penalty is imposed, the transaction is not only void but illegal, unless the circumstances are such that the provisions of the statute stipulate otherwise. See Solanke v. Abed & Anor. (1962) N.R.N .L.R. 92, (1962) 1 S.C.N.L.R. 371 and P. Kasumu & Ors. v. Baba-Egbe 14 WACA 444.”

— Mohammed, JSC. Fasel v NPA (2009) – SC.88/2003

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