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(1) In civil law, an agreement to an offer by another party entailing legal consequences. According to the law of most states, acceptance is one of the stages in the conclusion of a contract and represents the unconditional expression of the will of a person to conclude a contract on the terms offered by the other party. An acceptance that contains additional terms is considered to be a new offer. An agreement is considered to be an acceptance if it is received by the party which made the offer within the time stipulated within the offer or within the time required for an immediate reply (see, for example, the Civil Code of the RSFSR, arts. 162–64).
Acceptance may be expressed orally, in writing, or through the performance of acts which make it apparent that the party agrees to the conclusion of the contract (the so-called implied agreement). Among such acts are also acts that constitute the substance of the obligation of the debtor. For instance, instead of replying in regard to acceptance, the debtor may begin to deliver the commodity or to carry out work. In some cases, the law provides that acceptance may be expressed by silence. Thus, according to Soviet law, in concluding a contract for delivery between socialist enterprises, silence on the part of the purchaser lasting more than ten days is considered acceptance.
A contract is considered concluded when acceptance is received in response to an offer. In bourgeois law there exist two systems, each treating the matter differently. The countries of continental Europe—such as France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Italy—have the so-called receipt system; that is, the contract is considered concluded at the moment when the acceptance is received by the bidder. England, the USA, Japan, and a number of other countries employ the so-called dispatch system, or “mailbox theory,” according to which a contract is considered concluded the moment the acceptance has been mailed.
The law of the socialist countries—such as the People’s Republic of Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of Poland, the USSR, and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic—recognizes the acceptance of a draft contract as concluding an industrial contract. Moreover, in case the parties fail to reach an agreement on some of the terms of the contract, the offer of one party is considered to be accepted by the other if the latter agrees to the basic terms of the contract. Such is the case, for example, in the German Democratic Republic in regard to commodities, quality, and price (Law of Contract in Socialist Economy, Feb. 25, 1965, article 15, Gesetzblatt der DDR, 1965, issue 1, no.7), and in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic with respect to commodities and the time element (Economic Code of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, par. 153).
In socialist law an offer of an economic contract usually entails obligatory acceptance if the offer is dictated by the plan or is based on instructions of a competent organ that are binding for both parties. In such cases nonagreement with the terms of the draft contract is not a reason for its rejection; it calls, rather, for a, precontract debate on the matter. The time limit for acceptance is usually fixed by law: in Hungary, 15 days; in theGDR, two to three weeks; in the Soviet Union, ten days; and in Czechoslovakia, one month. If acceptance does not take place within the time fixed by law, then the bidder has the right to take back his offer or to ask the court of arbitration to coerce conclusion of the contract. Refusal to honor acceptance is justified in cases where the conclusion of the contract infringes upon the interest of the national economy or where the supplier is unable to fulfill the contract (see the resolution of the Hungarian Revolutionary Workers’ and Peasants’ Government “Concerning Contracts for Supply,” par. 6).
(2) One of the forms of clearing accounting between enterprises.
E. G. POLONSKII