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Ms. Yola is a year two law student of East London University, and treasurer of Best Brains Group(BBG) on 30th April 2020. Ms. Yola went to GTBank’s Automated Teller Machine(ATM) to withdraw some money for BBG activities. She joined the queue and when it got to her turn, Ms. Yola saw a green light blinking which was an indication that she should insert her card and an inscription ‘Welcome Yola, Please Enter your Pin Number’ appeared on the screen. She entered her pin. These options appeared: “Change of Password”, “Balance Enquiry”, “Transfer”, “Withdrawal”. Ms.Yola pressed the “Withdrawal” button. Thereafter, the following options appeared: “N2,000”, “N5,000”, “N10,000”, “N15,000”, “N20,000”, “N40,000”. She pressed “N15,000” and “enter”. Immediately the ATM dispensed “N15,000” which she collected. The transaction ended with the ATM saying “Thank You for Banking with us” 

With the aid of decided cases, discuss how the use of ATM illustrates the concept of invitation to treat, offer and acceptance, clearly indicating at what stage of the transaction each of the concept could be said to have occurred. Would your answer be different if Ms. Yola had failed to press “enter’? 


In the formation of a contract, there are certain elements required that attest to its validity. These elements consist mainly of offer, acceptance, consideration, and intention to create legal relations. The advent of technology has advanced the development of electronic contracts in Nigeria however, it remains a source of controversy. Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is an electronic banking outlet that enables customers to perform financial transactions. It is a bilateral contract entered into electronically and becomes binding when assent is given. This paper examines the use of Automated Teller Machines using the hypothetical case and how it illustrates the concepts of Invitation to treat, Offer, and Acceptance with the aid of decided cases.

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An invitation to treat is a preliminary move in negotiations that may lead to a contract but cannot be binding on the parties. It is an offer to receive offers or negotiate. Oduyemi JCA in C.B.N v S.A.P.N declared that “It is distinguishable from an offer, primarily on the ground that it is not made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as the person to whom it is addressed simply communicates his/her assent to its terms”. It may be in form of auctions, advertisements, goods displayed in supermarkets and self-service shops, sales of shares, and invitation to tender

In Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists Ltd, the chemist owned a shop that was operated as a self-service system. A customer took a drug with poisons, which was required to be sold under supervision. An action was brought against the defendants and the question arose whether the display of drugs was an offer. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants breached the Pharmacy and Poisons Act as the display of the goods was an offer however the court held that the mere display of goods was not an offer but an invitation to treat and there was no breach of contract.

 2.2 OFFER

An offer is a definite undertaking or promise made by one party to another with the intention that it shall become binding on that party as soon as it is accepted by the party to whom it is addressed. An Offer must be precise and unequivocal leaving no room for speculation or conjecture as to its real content in the mind of the offeree. Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. is a classic case of offer that establishes the principle that an offer can be made not only to one person or group of persons but also to the whole world.

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Offer can be made expressly or by conduct. Thus in Major Oni v Communications Associates, the plaintiff made an offer to let his flat to the defendants but the latter modified the terms of the offer by including the installation of air conditioners. The plaintiff assented to this. When an action was instituted in court, the court held that it was a valid contract because the plaintiff had accepted the defendant’s counter-offer by conduct.


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