The underlying philosophical approach to contract law is pacta
sunt servanda. Pacta sunt servanda is a Latin phrase that
can be literally translated as “Pacts must be kept,” but is more commonly and
colloquially translated to mean “agreements are to be kept.” This phrase is the
essential theory behind contract law. However, pacta sunt servanda only
applies if the contract that is formed is a legally valid one.
One of the most essential
aspects used to determine if a contract is valid or not is if there is a
legally recognized offer and acceptance. The focus on offer and acceptance is
the traditional approach to analyzing whether an agreement is present between
the two parties who are in a contract dispute.
When measuring whether there is
a sufficient agreement between the two parties, there must be an offer and
acceptance. The offer is the terms that are presented to the “offeree” by the
“offeror”. In order for a contract to be formed, the offer must be accepted
If the initial “offeree” makes any changes to the terms
presented to them by the offeror, then there cannot be offer and acceptance at
that point, for the individuals have immediately swapped position. This new
offer, and acceptance of the new terms, may result in agreement, however. The
difference is largely technical, and only becomes an issue if there is a contractual
dispute between the parties.