Breach of Contract for Being Snubbed at Dinner?

If your friend invites you to a dinner party, but no one’s home when you arrive, can you sue for breach of contract? Of course being so litigious could harm your social life, but could you prevail? Probably not.

Dinner invitations involve the basic elements of contract formation — there’s an offer, acceptance, and arguably consideration — but something critical is missing: the intent to be bound by the agreement. According to Calamari and Perillo (The Law of Contracts § 2.4), “if, from the statements or conduct of the parties or the surrounding circumstances, it appears that the parties do not intend to be bound or do not intend legal consequences, then, under the great majority of the cases, there is no contract.”

While someone extending a dinner invitation has a social obligation to be around when their guests arrive, social conventions are such that neither snubbed dinner guests nor the absent host would expect legal consequences to follow.

In Category: Contract Law Basics and Tips

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