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I once heard that there is a certain level of reasonable expectation that is guaranteed by law when it comes to making multiple deals with others.

For instance, is the following legal or illegal to do.

  • Bill offered to Mow Janes lawn for $1, which is agreeable.
  • Bill mows the lawn, and gives Jane a bill for $1.
  • Jane happily pays.
  • A week pasts, and Jane asks Bill to mow her lawn again.
  • Bill mows the lawn again, and give Jane a bill for $2
  • Jane asks why $2 and not $1, like last week
  • Bill says that he changed the price within the last week due to high demand of his services, and that is what he charges everyone now.

I do not mind which country the law exists, or if it exists at all; I was told that this was illegal to do (anecdotally), and I just want to get a quick opinion (not used in any legal way, just to cure my curiosity) and see if they were telling the truth or not.

Thanks!

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Bill and Jane are free to enter into a contract where, among other things, each provides valuable consideration; in this case Bill provides valuable lawn mowing services and Jane provides valuable money.

In week No 1 they have negotiated the terms and the contract is complete when Bill mows the lawn and Jane pays the money.

If Bill turns up next week without Jane's instruction then there is no contract and Jane does not have to pay anything; I don't think this is what you are asking but I include it for completeness.

If it is understood that this arrangement continue week after week then either there is an ongoing contract or, more likely, a series of independent contracts.

If there is an ongoing contract, then it can be renegotiated but it cannot be changed unilaterally by Bill. That is, he cannot unilaterally increase the price to $2.

If there is a series of contracts then the terms of each of those contracts will be the same based on the course of dealing. Basically, the parties have accepted over a long period of time that the rate for a mow is $1 and Bill would have to get Jane to accept the revised rate before he mows the lawn. For your example, Jane owes Bill $1 but if she wants him back next week she will have to agree to Bill's rate.

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I think your friend is correct. I think Jane has a good case that she only owes $1. If Bill and Jane did not reach a separate agreement before Bill mowed the lawn a second time then Jill has a "reasonable expectation" that the price would be $1 because that was the price the week before.

The fact that the price was not stated or renegotiated between the first and the second mowing creates an implied understanding that the first price is still valid.

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