What Is an Invitation to Treat?

An invitation to treat is a phrase used in contract law that expresses a willingness to negotiate the terms of the contract in question. It is the opposite of a binding agreement, in which all parties must abide by all conditions of the contract once they have signed it.

An invitation to treat must be offered by one of the parties entering into the contract, and it must be accepted by all parties before it can be included in the contract. This type of contract is most often used when one party is selling, displaying or handling goods on behalf of another and wants some legal leeway to consider offers from different buyers rather than automatically accepting the highest one.