Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., [1893] 1 QB 256

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Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., [1893] 1 QB 256

The defendants deposited £1000 in a Bank following its advert to pay £100 to anyone that catches flu after using a smoke ball accordingly. The plaintiff who caught flu after using the ball, sought to claim the reward. The defendants argued that: 1. The advert was a sales puff. 2. It is not possible to make an offer to the world. 3. There was no notification of acceptance. 4. The wording was too vague to constitute an offer since there was no stated time limit as to catching the flu. 5. There was no consideration provided.

Held: The court rejected the defendants’ arguments for the following reasons: 1. It was not a mere sales puff since the deposit of £1,000 showed intent 2. It is quite possible to make an offer to the world. 3. In unilateral contracts there is no requirement that the offeree communicates an intention to accept, since acceptance is through full performance. 4. Whilst there may be some ambiguity in the wording this was capable of being resolved by applying a reasonable time limit or confining it to only those who caught flu whilst still using the balls. 5. The defendants would have value in people using the ball.

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