An invitation to treat is a preliminary step towards making an offer, but it does not lead to the formation of a contract. It is a way of expressing interest or willingness to negotiate, without committing to any specific terms. Judges often have to decide whether a statement or an action is an offer or an invitation to treat, as the distinction can affect the legal rights and obligations of the parties involved. According to the study guide, some examples of invitations to treat are:
1. Display of goods on shop windows or shelves
3. Request for quotation and invitation to tender
These are not offers because they do not indicate a clear intention to be bound by the acceptance of the other party. They are merely invitations for the other party to make an offer.
However, with the development of electronic commerce, the distinction between offer and invitation to treat becomes more complicated. For instance, is a display of goods on an e-commerce website an offer or an invitation to treat?
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