Carlil vs Carbolic Smoke Ball

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  • Topic: Contract, Invitation to treat, Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company
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Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co | |
|[pic] | |Court |Court of Appeal (Civil Division) | |Full case name |Louisa Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company | |Date decided |7 December 1893 | |Citation(s) |[1892] EWCA Civ 1, [1893] 1 QB 256 | |Judge(s) sitting |Lindley LJ, Bowen LJ and AL Smith LJ | |Case history | |Prior action(s) |Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1892] 2 QB 484 | | |(QBD) | |Subsequent action(s) |none | |Case opinions | |Lindley LJ, Bowen LJ and AL Smith LJ |

Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1893] EWCA Civ 1 is an English contract law decision by the Court of Appeal, which held an advertisement containing certain terms to get a reward constituted a binding unilateral offer that could be accepted by anyone who performed its terms. It is notable for its curious subject matter and how the influential judges (particularly Lindley LJ and Bowen LJ) developed the law in inventive ways. Carlill is frequently discussed as an introductory contract case, and may often be the first legal case a law student studies. The case concerned a flu remedy called the "carbolic smoke ball". The manufacturer advertised that buyers who found it did not work would be awarded £100, a considerable amount of money at the time. The company was found to have been bound by its advertisement, which it construed as creating a contract. The Court of Appeal held the essential elements of a contract were all present, including offer and acceptance, consideration and an intention to create legal relations.

Facts

The Carbolic Smoke Ball Company made a product called the "smoke ball". It claimed to be a cure for influenza and a number of other diseases, in the context of the 1889-1890 flu pandemic (estimated to have killed 1 million people). The smoke ball was a rubber ball with a tube attached. It was filled with carbolic acid (or phenol). The tube would be inserted into a user's nose and squeezed at the bottom to release the vapours. The nose would run, ostensibly flushing out viral infections. The Company published advertisements in the Pall Mall Gazette and other newspapers on November 13, 1891, claiming that it would pay £100 to anyone who got sick with influenza after using its product according to the instructions provided with it. |“ |£100[1] reward will be paid by the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company to any person who contracts the increasing epidemic |” | | |influenza colds, or any disease caused by taking cold, after having used the ball three times daily for two weeks, | | | |according to the printed directions supplied with each ball. | | | |£1000 is deposited with the Alliance Bank, Regent Street, showing our sincerity in the matter. | | | |During the last epidemic of influenza many thousand carbolic smoke balls were sold as preventives against this | | | |disease, and in no ascertained case was the disease contracted by those using the carbolic smoke ball. | | | |One carbolic smoke ball will last a family several months, making it the cheapest remedy in the world at the price,| | | |10s. post free. The ball can be refilled at a cost of 5s. Address: “Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, “27, Princes | | | |Street, Hanover Square, London.” |...
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