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Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893]

Facts

  • The Carbolic Smoke Ball company displayed an advertisement saying that £100 would be paid to anyone who could, inter alia, use their smoke ball product for 2 weeks and then contract influenza. The offer stated that £1000 had been deposited in a bank, and the address of that bank was given
  • Mrs Carlill followed the instructions exactly, then contracted influenza
  • The Carbolic Smoke Ball company refused to pay Mrs Carlill

Issue

  • Could the smoke ball company be bound in contract law by its advertisement

Decision

  • Yes, a contract has been made

Reasoning

  • The £1000 deposit showed that the advert was more than a mere puff
  • An offer can be made to the world at large, but a contract would only be made with those who performed the conditions of the offer
  • The Carbolic Smoke Ball Co could not expect to be notified of acceptance of the offer, the performance of the conditions constituted acceptance
  • Consideration was provided by the sale of the smoke ball, even if not directly from the defendant company
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