Case study 1
Issue – Is the VSCA bound by the High court decision?
Rule – Decisions of higher courts bind lower courts in the same hierarchy when similar cases are taken into consideration. However, only the “Ratio Decidendi” is binding the lower courts in the hierarchy in terms of the doctrine of precedent. “Obiter Dicta” on the other hand, is not binding in the doctrine of precedent. O’Toole v Charles David Pty. Ltd (1991) 171 CLR 232 at 267.
Application – Although the “Obiter Dicta” of an earlier High court decision is favourable to Bryson, “Obiter Dicta” does not enable the VSCA to be bound by the High court decision as it is a passing comment/statement made by the justices in judgement which is not strictly essential for the decisions. In other words, “Obiter Dicta” is merely a judicial opinion.
“Ratio Decidendi” however, creates a binding precedent as it highlights the reason/reasons given to decide an earlier case. According to the decision given in O’Toole v Charles David Pty. Ltd (1991), it was held that the “Ratio Decidendi” which is expressed or implied by reasons for judgement is the law and not a judicial opinion as to what the law is like “Obiter Dicta”.
Conclusion – Bryson has a “Ratio Decidendi” of an earlier decision given by three judges of VSCA which is unfavourable to his case. Since “Ratio Decidendi” is used to forcefully say that it is the law that should be applied, the VSCA will be bound by the unfavourable “Ratio Decidendi” of its previous decision.
Case study 2
Issue – Does Nico & James have a contract?
Does the postal rule apply for revocations as well as acceptance?
Does Nico have to go ahead with the party as agreed on the first offer?
Rule – Revocation of an offer must be clearly communicated to the offeree, by the offeror. In other words, the offeree must have clear knowledge about the revocation as mentioned in Byrne & Co v Leon Van Tienhoven & Co (1880) 5 CPD 344
Application – Before revocation comes into effect, the offeree must have received and understood the revocation of the offer. Therefore, posting a revocation is not considered as sufficient communication. Acceptance by the offeree before receiving the notice of revocation is considered as a valid contract.
Since Nico’s offer was accepted by James before receiving the revocation letter, there is a valid contract. This is mainly because, the postal rule of acceptance highlights that the acceptance is complete immediately once the letter is posted by the offeree. In the case of Byrne ; Co v Leon Van Tienhoven ; Co (1880) 5 CPD 344, it was held that the withdrawal of an offer is invalid since the revocation was not clearly communicated and understood by the offeree.
Conclusion – Nico must go ahead with the party in his restaurant as the earlier offer has already been accepted by James before receiving the revocation of the offer posted by Nico. Therefore, it becomes a valid contract.
Case study 3
Issue – Is there a legally binding agreement between Jane and Jilly? Is there a contract between the two parties?
Rule – Parties involved in making social or domestic agreements are presumed of having no intention for the agreement to be legally binding unless one of the parties has changed his/her position relying on the agreement.
Todd v Nicole (1957) SASR 72.
Application – Although there is a presumption related to social or domestic agreements stating that there is no intention to create legal relations between the parties, this can be rebutted since both Jane and Jilly has showcased their intentions to create legal relations. Jilly offering half share from her Sydney mansion and Jane leaving her lucrative job, lavish lifestyle and the country and going to Australia can be highlighted as areas where both Jilly and Jane has showcased their intentions to create legal relations respectively. Therefore, it is evident that the agreement between the two parties is a valid contract and that the contract is enforceable by court as mentioned in Todd v Nicole (1957) SASR 72 case where the presumption was rebutted since both the parties showcased their intentions to create legal relations.
Conclusion – It can be said that the agreement between Jane and Jilly is a valid contract since both parties have the intention of creating legal relations. As a result, the agreement between the two parties is enforceable by court.