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Difference Between Offer and Invitation to Offer (Treat)

The distinction between an offer and an invitation to offer is fundamental because it is based on the parties’ ‘specific intent.’ Whereas an offer immediately permits the other party to engage in a deal (legally enforceable contract) once approved, an invitation to treat primarily asks the other party to negotiate and make an offer to the seller. It may appear complex, yet it is an essential distinction that we frequently encounter in our daily lives. 

However, nobody is legally obligated to do anything in this situation. Besides that, most types of advertising are invitations to offer rather than actual offers. To properly comprehend the distinction, consider how the request and invitation to offer have been described independently.

Definition of Offer

An offer is an individual affirmation of their readiness to do or not do something to another person to get their permission upon that affirmation. When the person accepts the offer, it may lead to a legal contract. A request must be specific, precise, and all-inclusive in every way—you must convey it to the intended party.  There are several sorts of offers available, including:

Difference Between Offer and Invitation to Offer (Treat)

  • General offer—this is an offer given to the general public.
  • Specific offer—is an offer given to an individual.
  • Cross offer—when the contracting parties accept each other’s offer while unaware of the initial offer.
  • Counteroffer—the offeree doesn’t accept the initial offer but modifies the terms of the contract to embrace it.
  • Standing offer—is an offer issued to the general public and stays open for acceptance for a defined length of time.


  • A says to B, “I’d like to sell my motorbike to you for Rs. 25,000; will you buy it?”
  • X approaches Y and says, “I’d like to buy your automobile for Rs. 250,000; would you sell it to me?”

Definition Of Invitation To Offer (Treat)

Invitation to offer is pre-offer conduct in which an individual urges another to make an offer to them. If the other person responds correctly, an invitation to offer culminates in an offer. An invitation to offer is created to the public to receive offers and negotiate the conditions of the contract.

Offer and Invitation to Offer

The purpose of this offer is to tell the public about the stipulated terms of the contract when an individual is willing to engage in an agreement with the other.  And although the first party isn’t an offeror, he is encouraging others to make him an offer. As a result, the acceptance is only an offer rather than a contract. So when the latter party accepts the other party’s request, it becomes a contract that both parties must follow.


  • A restaurant’s menu card that displays the pricing of meal items.
  • Tender from the Government
  • A company solicits applications from the general public to subscribe for its stock.

Significant Distinction Between an Offer and Invitation to Offer (Treat)

The following are the primary distinctions between an offer and an invitation to offer:

1. An offer represents the party’s ultimate readiness to establish legal ties. On the other hand, an invitation to offer is the party’s desire to invite the public to provide them rather than their utmost willingness.

2. The Indian Contract Act of 1872 defines an offer under section 2 (a). The Indian Contract Act of 1872, on the other hand, makes no mention of an invitation to bid.

3. An offer is required for the parties to reach an agreement, but an invitation to offer is not needed until it becomes an offer.

Offer and Invitation to Offer

If an offer is approved, it becomes a settled contract. On the other hand, an invitation to offer only becomes an offer when the audience reacts.

4. The primary goal of creating an offer is to form a contract. The primary purpose of inviting you to offer is to discuss the parameters to establish the agreement.

Is An Advertisement An Offer Or An Invitation To Treat?

Offer Versus Invitation to Treat

An offer is an invite proposed by one party to enter into a contractual agreement with defined parameters. Acceptance results in a legally enforceable agreement for all involved.

On the other hand, an invitation to treat is a request to begin a dialogue to develop an offer. An example of an invitation to treat is a recruiting agency welcoming candidates or a hotel’s menu card that lists pricing.


Advertisements exist everywhere—online, on billboards, in magazines, newspapers, television, and many more. Advertisements offer to sell the most important items at the best rates with excellent service. However, this doesn’t mean they signify the start of a contract.

On the other hand, advertisers may be held liable for any false messages conveyed through their advertising. They may make specific claims regarding their items, which must be proven, but they’re not given the legal context.

Offer and Invitation to Offer

Advertisements are generally an invite to treat since they lack the necessary details to be considered an offer. In some cases, an advertisement might be regarded as an offer.

When descriptive phrases are used to tie somebody, and there is trust in all pertinent terms, the advertising is more likely to be interpreted as an offer rather than an invitation to treat. Usually, mentioning a price is an invitation to treat. Still, if the business obligates itself to take a specific price by posting tags, an offer may be approved when the client approaches the counter.

For instance, if a business advertises, “We are selling this book for $2.25,” Such statement contains all of the components of an offer:

  • All the terminologies are included.
  • The terms are defined with enough precision.
  • Acceptance without further discussion is required.

Auction Sales

There is usually an agreement that each seller and bidder must offer and negotiate if bids can be retracted with auction sales. Many situations have existed when auction sales have been directly addressed. Certain courts have ruled that a proposal request is typically an invitation to treat going back to the late 1700s.

Offer and Invitation to Offer

The bidder makes an offer that the auctioneer may accept or decline. Several judges have ruled that a bid with no reserve constituted an offer in the past few years—the auctioneer is obligated to accept the winning bid.

Acceptance of an Offer.

Suppose an individual believes they are accepting an offer but is only reacting to an invitation to treat. In that case, acceptance will imply that they are making an offer rather than taking the previous one—the offeree must accept all essential terms as given and notify the offeror. If the offeree replies with a change of the initial agreement, this is a counteroffer, which effectively ends the initial offer.

Acceptance may be complex and perplexing since it raises several questions:

  • How would a unilateral offer become accepted? Acceptance by action is adequate in this case.
  • What if a bilateral offer is accepted? The offeror must communicate acceptance.
  • What about if the offeree stipulates one method but uses a different one to communicate acceptance? Delivery methods can be diverse as long as approval happens within the same period.

Offer and Invitation to Offer

  • What is the procedure for simultaneous communication? Acceptance is accepted when it is deemed received if it is given electronically.
  • Is it possible to accept mail? When it is posted, approval is assumed to have occurred.
  • What are the ramifications of accepting a proposal? When all other contractual components are in place, it will result in a legal and legally signed agreement.

Offer Termination

You can cancel an offer in a variety of ways, including:

  • Offeree’s death
  • Approval of the proposal
  • Counteroffer
  • Failure of a preceding condition
  • Cancellation before acceptance
  • Time Dilation

Offer and Invitation to Offer

Related Questions

1. Why Is It Important To Distinguish Between An Invitation To Treat And An Offer?

It is essential to understand the difference between an offer and an invitation to treat—accepting an offer results in forming a legally binding contract. In contrast, an invitation to treat is not an offer unless direct and precise contact with another party is made.

2. Is A Counter Offer A Rejection?

A counteroffer serves as a dismissal of an offer to engage in an agreement and a new proposal that significantly alters the previous offer’s conditions. Since a counteroffer functions as a rejection, it renders the initial offer null and invalid.

3. What is a legal basis to counter an offer?

Counteroffers allow you to obtain a contract for the value you have on your parameters, decide where you’re prepared to compromise, and see whether prospective buyers are willing to comply.

4. What Would Happen If A Buyer Rejects A Counter Offer?

If a buyer rejects a counteroffer, the counteroffer lawfully nullifies the buyer’s previous offer. It generally relieves them from any legal obligations they had under the previous contract—there is little you can do if a decision has been made to decline your offer.

Bottom Line 

Up to this point, I believe you are most likely not perplexed by the distinction between an offer and an invitation to offer. Besides, an invitation to offer is a word that we are all familiar with since we’ve all visited restaurants where menu cards reveal the price guide of the relevant meals or bought a train ticket by reading the railway schedule. 

On the other hand, an offer is a particular phrase since it is intended to create legal relations and is necessary for creating a contract. The essential characteristic that distinguishes the two terms is the ‘intention’ of the party making it.

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About Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.