The communication of a proposal is complete when it comes to the knowledge of the person to whom it is made (Secn 4). An offer is effective only when it is communicated to the offeree. Until the offer is made known to the offeree, there can be no acceptance and no contract. Doing anything
in ignorance of the offer can never be treated as its acceptance, for there was never a consensus of wills. This applies to both ‘specific’ and ‘general’ offers.
(a) A without knowing that a reward has been offered for the arrest of a particular criminal, catches the criminal and gives the information to the superintendent of police. A cannot recover the reward as he cannot be said to have accepted the offer when he was not at all aware of it.
In Lalman Shukla vs. Gauri Datt. “ the defendant’s nephew absconded from home. He sent his servant, the plaintiff, in search of the boy. After the servant had left. The defendant announced a reward of Rs. 501 to anybody giving information relating to the boy. The servant, before seeing the announcement, had traced the boy and informed the defendant. Later, on reading the notice of reward, the servant claimed it. His suit was dismissed on the ground that he could not accept the offer, unless he had knowledge of it.
The court observed: “ where an offer has been accepted with knowledge of the reward the fact that the informer was influenced by motives other than the reward will be immaterial.”
In Williams vs. Carwardine where information was given about the murderers of her husband of a woman, not so much for reward, but to assuage her feelings, she was allowed to recover. The court further observed that in the case of public advertisements offering a reward, the performance of the act raises an inference of acceptance. But in the case of Lalman Shukla vs Gauri Dutt , the plaintiff being a servant was already under an obligation to do what he did and therefore the performance of act cannot be regarded as a consideration for defendant’s promise.