Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.

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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.
[1893] Q.B. 256 (C.A.)

Facts
The Defendants were a medical company named “Carbolic Smoke Ball”. Who manufactured and sold a product called the "smoke ball", a cure for influenza and a number of other diseases. 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 three times a day for two weeks, according to the instructions provided with it. The advertisement also claimed that £1000 was being deposited into the bank to demonstrate their sincerity. The plaintiff, Mrs Louisa Elizabeth bought one of these balls after seeing the advertisement. She used it three times daily for nearly two months until she contracted the flu on 17 January 1892. She sued the company to recover the money promised in the advertisement. Procedural history

Appeal from decision of Hawkins J. wherein he held that the plaintiff, Ms. Carlill was entitled to recover £100. Issue:
Does an advertisement to the general public promising to pay money to anyone who does something create a binding contract between the parties? Arguments
The Defendant argued that there was no contract between it and that there was no acceptance of its offer. So the contract was too vague to be enforced, there was no way to check the conditions were met, you cannot contract with everybody and the timeframe was not specified. Also the acceptance had not been communicated to the offeror. And the last argument was that there was no consideration: nudum pactum. The plaintiff’s argument was that she just followed the constructions. The advertisement was also an offer were under an obligation to fulfil because it was published so it would be read and abided. The promise was also not vague .

Judgment
The court rejected both arguments of the company, ruling that the advertisement was an offer of a unilateral contract between the...
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