There are two kinds of offers – general and specific. The specific order is made to a specific person, while a general offer is made to the world or public at large. However, in case of general offers the contract is made only with that person who comes forward and performs the conditions of the proposal as such performance amounts to the acceptance of performance. Such an offer can be accepted only by the person or persons to whom it is made. Thus, where M makes an offer to N to sell his bicycle for Rs. 200, there is a specific offer and N alone can accept it. A ‘general offer’ on
the enter hand is one which is made to the world at large or public in general and may be accepted by and person who fulfils the requisite conditions. The leading case on the subject of ‘general offer’ is that of Carlill vs Carbolic smoke Ball co.
In the above case the carbolic smoke Ball co. issued an advertisement in which the company offered to pay £ 100 to any person who contract influenza, after having used their smoke Balls three times daily for two weeks, according to the printed directions. Mrs. Carlill, on the faith of the advertisement, bought and used the Balls according to the directions, but she nevertheless subsequently suffered from influenza. She sued the company for the promised reward. The company was held liable.
Offers of reward made by way of advertisement, addressed to the public at large, for the rendering of certain services, or the restoration of lost article are also examples of general offers. Such offers may be accepted by performance of the conditions by an individual person in order to give rise to a contractual obligation to pay the reward. It is worth noting that there cannot result into a contract until it has been accepted by an ascertained person. If a large number of persons accepted a general offers of continuing nature, as it was in the smoke Ball company case discussed above, which can be accepted by number of persons. In case of general offer of reward for some information or restoration of a missing thing, the offer is open for acceptance to only one individual who performs the required condition first of all, and as soon as the condition is first performed the offer is closed.