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On Halloween the dead may rise and walk again, but they cannot make a contract!!

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Civil and commercial litigation

John, from St. Jerome, asks:

I am a professional pianist. I am an accompanist for dance troupes and I also offer private lessons from the basis of my home.

On August 1, 2016, I received an e-mail from Edward, the father of my good friend Louis. Edward was offering to sell me his Baldwin piano for the modest sum of $ 5,000, payable in one installment at the time of sale. 

Edward gave me a week to reply, more specifically, until August 8th, 2016. I was obviously delighted with this proposal, knowing that this was definitely a deal, having already had the chance to try the gorgeous piano out, on several occasions.

However, given that this was an important acquisition, I decided to take a step back, and to hold off on replying immediately. I can’t hide the fact that I also needed to consult with my banker to see if this acquisition was feasible.

On August 6th, 2016, my banker gave me the green light, agreeing to extend my line of credit to enable me to make this purchase. Hence, I immediately sent Edward an email affirming that I agreed to all of his terms, thereby confirming the purchase of the Baldwin piano.

Unfortunately, on August 7th, while reading the obituary, I learned that Edward passed away on August 3rd, 2016, of a heart attack.

Currently, Edward’s estate is in possession of the piano and I fear it will be tempted to sell it for a higher price than the $ 5 000 asking price.

Did I become owner of the Baldwin piano? If the answer is no, can I force the estate to sell me the piano with the terms provided by e-mail on August 1st, 2016?

Dear John,

Despite that there is an appearance of promise of sale, Article 1710 of the Civil Code of Québec (CCQ below), provides that you have not become the owner of the piano, since there was no delivery or actual possession of the piano.

Moreover, Article 1392 CCQ provides that the offer lapses by Edward’s death if John’s acceptance was not sent and received prior to Edward’s death.

Sonia Rotondo, Attorney–at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats Inc.

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