Unilateral Promise and Its Agreement

Unilateral Promise and Its Agreement

Ever heard the phrase, "It takes two to tango"? While that may be true in dance, when it comes to promises, sometimes only one party leads the way. Enter the world of unilateral promises!

Introduction to Unilateral Promises

What is a Unilateral Promise?

Imagine you're at a fair, and there's a sign that says, "Win $100 if you can hit the bullseye three times in a row!" You don't have to approach the stall owner and agree with them. The offer stands alone. This is a classic example of a unilateral promise. It’s a promise where one party makes an obligation, and the other party isn’t obligated to act but can choose to do so.

Distinct Characteristics of Unilateral Promises

Unilateral promises are unique. The person making the promise is bound by their word once the other party decides to act. However, the other party is under no obligation to act upon it.

Historical Context

Unilateral promises aren't a new concept. They’ve been rooted in historical transactions and barter systems. Think of old fables where someone promises a reward for the return of a lost item. It's the same principle!

Importance in Legal Context

Role in Contract Law

In legal jargon, unilateral contracts are significant. These contracts are formed when one party promises something in return for the other party's action or forbearance. Once the action is completed, the promise becomes legally enforceable.

Comparison with Bilateral Contracts

Contrast this with bilateral contracts where both parties promise to perform certain acts. Bought a coffee lately? That’s a bilateral contract. You promise to pay, and the barista promises to make your coffee. Both are bound by their respective promises.

Real-life Applications of Unilateral Promises

Everyday Scenarios

Rewards for lost pets, challenges, and certain advertisements are all everyday examples of unilateral promises. You see them more often than you might think!

Business Context

Businesses use unilateral promises in promotions or special offers. Ever seen a "Money-back guarantee if not satisfied" label? That’s a unilateral promise in action!

The Agreement Aspect

Binding Nature of Unilateral Promises

One might wonder, "Is a unilateral promise legallybinding?" Well, once the action specified in the promise is completed, it often is. The person who made the promise is obligated to fulfill it.

Legal Implications of Not Upholding a Unilateral Promise

Failure to uphold a unilateral promise can have legal repercussions. If someone acts based on the promise made, the promisor might be legally bound to fulfill their end of the bargain.

Pros and Cons of Unilateral Promises

Unilateral promises offer flexibility. The promisor is free to make an offer without immediate commitment from the other party. However, they also carry risks. Once the promisee acts on the promise, the promisor is bound to fulfill it.


Unilateral promises are an interesting blend of trust, commitment, and freedom. They demonstrate the intricate nuances of human interactions and transactions. So, next time you come across a "Reward if found" poster or a promotional offer, you'll know there’s more to it than meets the eye!


1.      What's the main difference between unilateral and bilateral promises?

·        In unilateral promises, only one party promises something, while in bilateral promises, both parties make a promise.

2.      Are all unilateral promises legally binding?

·        Not all. They become binding once the action specified in the promise is completed.

3.      Can a unilateral promise be revoked?

·        It can be revoked before the other party completes the specified action.

4.      Why do businesses use unilateral promises?

·        They offer flexibility and can be enticing for customers, leading to potential engagement.

5.      Is a reward for a lost item a form of unilateral promise?

·        Yes, it's a promise to give a reward if the item is returned.


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