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Case examples

FISHER v. BELL (1960)

Formation of a contract - Agreement - The Offer

Shopkeeper charged with offering a flick-knife for sale escaped conviction.

GOODS DISPLAYED FOR SALE ARE AN INVITATION TO TREAT NOT AN OFFER.

PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GB v. BOOTS CASH CHEMISTS (1953)

Formation of a contract - Agreement - The Offer

Held a customer who took items off the shelf did not accept the offer.

OFFER TO BUY ONLY WHEN PRESENTED TO THE CASHIER

Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. (1983)

Formation of a contract - Agreement - The Offer

Advert promised to pay £100 to anyone who had flu after using smoke ball.

OFFER WAS TO PUBLIC AS A WHOLE AND SO LAWFUL

Routledge v. Grant (1828)

Def. offered to buy claimant's house and gave 6 weeks to accept. Def. withdrew offer in the 6 weeks.

REVOCATION - OFFER MAY BE WITHDRAWN AT ANY TIME BEFORE ACCEPTANCE

Dickinson v. Dodds (1876)

Def. offered to sell house to claimant, before offer accepted def. sold house to another. Claimant learnt of sale from a friend - held lawful.

REVOCATION MUST BE COMMUNICATED TO OFFEREE (CAN BE BY RELIABLE SOURCE)

Hyde v. Wrench (1840)

Def. offered to sell farm to claimant for £1000, claimant offered £950 which was refused. Def. also refused subsequent offer of £1000.

COUNTER-OFFER IS A REJECTION

Neale v. Merrett (1930)

Def. Offered to sell land for £280. Claimant accepted enclosing a chq for £80 and promising to pay the rest by instalments.

ACCEPTANCE MUST BE UNQUALIFIED.

Tinn v. Hoffman (1873)

Held that if offeree requested a reply by 'return of post' then any method that would arrive no later than return of post would do.

ACCEPTANCE CAN BE MADE IN ANY FORM

Felthouse v. Bindley (1863)

Re horse for sale, claimant wrote "if I hear no more.... I consider him mine at...". No contract.

ACCEPTANCE MUST BE A POSITIVE ACT

Byrne v. Van Tienhoven (1880)

Def. offered in a letter 1st Oct to sell tin plate to claimant. Letter received 11th Oct and offer accepted by telegraph. On 8th Oct def. sent a letter of revocation received on 20th Oct.

POSTING RULE - ACCEPTANCE EFFECTIVE MOMENT IT IS POSTED, OFFER, REVOCATION, REJECTION NOT EFFECTIVE UNTIL RECEIVED.

Entores v. Miles Far East Corporation (1955)

Acceptance sent from Amsterdam to London by telex effective on receipt in London.

POSTING RULE DOES NOT APPLY TO INSTANTANEOUS COMMUNICATION (accepting party should know if communication has not received)

Rose Frank Co. v. JR Compton Bros ltd (1925)

Agreement stated 'this arrangement is not entered into.... as a formal or legal agreement, and shall not be subject to legal jurisdiction in the law courts'.

PARTIES CAN STATE AN AGREEMENT IS NOT LEGALLY BINDING

Balfour v. Balfour (1919)

A husband's promise to pay his wife an allowance was not legally binding despite husband's work taking him abroad.

DOMESTIC ARRANGEMENTS NOT USUALLY LEGALY BINDING

Simpkins v. Pays (1955)

Claimant (lodger) had agreed with def. & her grand daughter to 'go shares' in a weekly competition. Held

NOT A DOMESTIC AGREEMENT, JOINT ENTERPRISE WHERE ALL PARTIES EXPECTED TO SHARE WINNINGS

White v. Bluett (1853)

Son sued his father's executors saying his father had agreed to pay him if he stopped complaining he was not as well treated as his brother. Not held.

CONSIDERATION MUST BE OFFERED (this was just a promise not to bore his father)

Re McArdle (1951)

Occupants of a house carried out improvements at cost of £488. Then asked owners to pay the £488.

CONSIDERATION MUST NOT BE PAST.

Stilk v. Myrick (1809)

After some of a ship's crew had deserted during the voyage the master offered to split their wages amongst the remaining crew. Not held.

CONSIDERATION MUST NOT BE SOMETHING WHICH THE PROMISEE IS ALREADY BOUND TO DO (prevents extortion)

Gladbrook Bros ltd V. Glamorgan County Council (1925)

Police were offered £2200 to provide a special guard for a coal mine during a strike. Held as work went beyond ordinary duties.

OVER AND ABOVE WHAT PROMISEE WAS ALREADY BOUND TO DO

Central London Property Trust v. High Trees House (1947)

During war landlords agreed to reduce rent as few tenants. After the war the landlords tried to backdate full rent charge. Held landlords able to charge full rent after the war but not to back date it.

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL

D & C Builders Ltd v. Rees (1966)

After completing work for the def. she offered them less than the balance knowing they were in desperate need of money. They accepted and later sued for the balance. Def. attempted to use Promissory Estoppel but claim held against her.

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL IS AN EQUITABLE PRINCIPLE (def. cannot use unless they have acted fairly)

Peters v. Flemming (1840)

Goods or sevices which are 'fit to maintain the particular person in the state, station and degree... in which he is'.

DEFINITION OF NECESSITY

Clyde Cycle Co. v. Hargreaves (1898)

Racing bicycle was held to be necessary for a young apprentice.

NECESSITY

Chapple v. Cooper (1844)

A decent funeral service for her husband held to be necessary.

NECESSITY

Nash v. Inman (1908)

Saville Row tailor failed to recover the cost of clothing (inc. 11 waistcoats) ordered by a young undergraduate since the young man already had an adequate supply of suitable clothes.

NECESSITY

Robert v. Gray (1913)

Instruction of playing billards

NECESSITIES CAN INCLUDE PROVISION OF EDUCATION

Doyle v. White City stadium (1935)

Under-age heavyweight boxer held to be bound by a clause in his contract stating he would lose his prize money if he was disqualified. (This was to encourage clean fighting.)

MINORS ARE BOUND BY CONTRACTS OF APPRENTICESHIP & SIMILAR PROVIDING THAT ON THE WHOLE IT IS FOR THEIR BENEFIT.

Jenkin v. Pharmaceutical Society (1921)

Member may bring legal proceedings in advance to prevent the corporation from entering into contracts.

A CONTRACT WHICH IS NOT AUTHORISED (OR IS PROHIBITED BY) THE CHARTER OF A CHARTERED CORPORATION REMAINS VALID.

Introductions Ltd v. National Provincial Bank (1970)

Court held that a loan taken by a company formed with the object of providing services to overseas visitors was 'ultra vires' because the loan was to finance the rather different enterprise of breeding pigs.

ULTRA VIRES

Scammell v. Ouston (1941)

Ouston agreed to take a van on 'hire-purchase' terms it was held that the agreement was void due to uncertainty as it was not clear what terms the parties had in mind.

CERTAINTY OF TERMS

The Moorcock (1889)

Owner of a wharf agreed to provide a berth for a hip, but this was unsuitable and vessel was damaged.

IMPLIED TERMS

Silverman v. Implied London Hotels (1927)

A turkish bath would be free from vermin

IMPLIED TERMS

British School of Motoring v. Simms (1971)

Contract for driving lessons implies the vehicle provided will be insured.

IMPLIED TERMS

Bournemouth FC v. MUFC (1980)

BFC transferred a player to MUFC for a lump sum plus £20k after he had scored 20 first division goals. He did not score 20 goals, mainly because he rarely played for the first team.

IMPLIED TERMS (expected player to have a reasonable chance of scoring the goals)

Chapleton v. Barry UDC (1940)

Claimaint injured when a hired deckchair collapsed. The ticket given to him contained a clause excluding liability.

CONTRACT TERMS MUST BE AGREED WITH BEFORE OR AT POINT OF CONCLUSION OF CONTRACT.

Thompson v. LMS Railway (1930)

Held that a railway excursion ticket which referred to conditions contained in timetable was a document which could be expected to contain terms.

CONTRACT TERMS MUST BE AGREED WITH BEFORE OR AT POINT OF CONCLUSION OF CONTRACT.

Olley v. Malbrough Court Ltd (1949)

Claimaint's property stolen in hotle. Notice in the bedroom stating that the proprietors were not liable for any losses held to be ineffective as contract was made at reception desk.

CONTRACT TERMS MUST BE AGREED WITH BEFORE OR AT POINT OF CONCLUSION OF CONTRACT.

Thornton v. Shoe Lane Parking Ltd (1971)

Car parking ticket bought outside premises referred to conditions dispayed inside the car park.

CONTRACT TERMS MUST BE AGREED WITH BEFORE OR AT POINT OF CONCLUSION OF CONTRACT.

Spurling Ltd v. Bradshaw (1956)

Def. had stored OJ for Cl. for many years, contract excluded liability for any 'negligence, wrongful act or default'. On this occasion document was not sent until after the contract was concluded. Held for def.

CONTRACT TERMS USED IN REGULAR & CONSISTANT DEALINGS APPLY EVEN IF NOT IN SPECIFIC CONTRACT.

Hollier v. Rambler Motors Ltd (1972)

6 transactions in five years was deemed not sufficient to have established a standard.

TO RELY ON PREVIOUSLY USEDD CONTRACT TERMS THEY MUST HAVE BEEN USED ON A REGULAR AND CONSISTENT BASIS.

Poussard v. Spiers & Pond (1876)

A soprano engaged to take lead role in an opera was ill on opening night and it was held this was sufficient justification for dismissal.

CONDITION MUST GO TO THE ROOT OF AGREEMENT.

Bettini v. Gye (1876)

A tenor engaged to sing for a season at Covent Garden who was unable to attend 4 of 6 rehersals due to illness was held not to have breached his contract, merely a waranty.

WARRANTY AFFECTS MINOR ASPECT OF CONTRACT

Hong Kong Fir Shipping Co. Ltd v. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (1962)

Def. chartered a ship from Cl. due to antiquated engines and a incompetant crewe 20 weeks were lost. Def. sued for breach of condition too provide a seaworthy ship. Cl. sued for wrongful repudiation. Court found that as the def, had not been deprived of the whole contract it was only a breach of waranty.

IN ORDER TO DECIDE WHETHER WARANTY OR CONDITION COURTS WILL CONSIDER WHAT EFFECT OF BREACH WAS.

The Hansa Nord (1976)

Court of appeal said than even in a contract for the sale of goods it is wrong to assume that a term is necessarily either a condition or a waranty.

WARANTY / CONDITION

Pearce v. Brooks (1886)

Prositute bought a carriage but did not keep up payments. Held that as coachbuilders knew carriage would be used to solicit business contract was void and their action to recover money failed.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY (CONTRACTS TENDING TO SEXUAL IMMORALITY)

Att. Gen. v. Lindi St Clair (personal service) Ltd

Contracts tainted with sexual immorality held to be illegal.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY (CONTRACTS TENDING TO SEXUAL IMMORALITY)

Foster v. Driscoll (1929)

English partnership formed to smuggle whisky into US during prohibition was held to be illegal under English Law.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY (CONTRACT WHICH BREAK THE LAW OF A FRIENDLY FOREIGN STATE)

Parkinson v. College of Ambulance (1925)

Secretary of college promised Parkinson a knighthood in return for a large donation. Kighthood not bestowed and court refused his claim for return of the money as agreement was illegal and therefore void.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY (CONTRACT TO CORRUPT PUBLIC LIFE)

Attwood v. Lamont (1920)

A tailor & draper at Kidderminster, employed the defendent under a contract staing he could not, on leaving his employment, carry on a business as a tailor within 10 miles of Kidderminster. It was held this restriction was to prevent the defendent using his skill in competition with the claimiant and therefore void.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE (Contracts of Employment)

Forster & Sons v. Suggett (1918)

A works manager of a glass making company had agreed not to work for a rival firm for five years after leaving his present job, this was held to be valid as the manager knew of a secret manufacturing process which would be valuable to a rival.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE (Contracts of Employment)

Nordenfelt v. Maxim-Nordenfelt Gun Co. (1884)

The Cl. sold his business and promised that he would not manufacture armaments in any part of the world. Despite it's great duration and scope this was held to be valid in view of the equal bargaining power of both parties and the ample compensation received by the claimaint.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - ILLEGALITY - CONTRACTS IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE (Restraints on seller of a Business)

Allcard v. Skinner (1887)

Cl. joined a religious order and over 8 years gave them over £7k. 6 years after leaving she sued to recover her money, although court accepted it had been obtained under influence, her claim was refused due to the long delay in bringing her action.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - IMPROPER PRESSURE - UNDUE INFLUENCE

Clifford Davies Management v. WEA Records (1975)

The Manager of a rock band made each member of the group sign a contract assigning the copyright in all their compositions for 10 years over to him. Held that assignment was invalid as undue influence has been exercised.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - IMPROPER PRESSURE - UNDUE INFLUENCE

Coutourier v. Hastie (1856)

Parties made a contact for the sale of wheat which unknown to them, no longer existed. The contract was void.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - MISTAKE - SUBJECT MATTER

Raffles v. Wichelhaus (1864)

Contract was made for the sale of 125 bales of cotton on the SS Peerless from Bombay. " ships of that name had left Bombay, one in October and one in December, seller had intended to buy a consignment on the second ship but buyer had intended to buy cotton on the first. Contract void.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - MISTAKE - SUBJECT MATTER
(No consensus ad idem - meeting of minds)

Galloway v Galloway (1914)

A separation agreement between a husband and wife was held void when it was disocvered they had never been legally married.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - MISTAKE - SUBJECT MATTER

Cooper v. Phibbs (1867)

Cl. was allowed to set aside lease on a fishery when it was discovered he himself was the owner of the fishery.

DEFECTIVE CONTRACTS - MISTAKE - SUBJECT MATTER

Bell v. Lever Bros (1932)

Lord Atkin stated: A buys a picture from B; both A & B believe it to be an old master and a high proce is paid. It turns out to be a modern copy. A has no remedy in the absence of representation or warranty.

CUNDY v. LINDSAY (1878)

Defective Contracts - Mistake - Identity

A rougue, Blenkarn, ordered handkerchiefs from Lindsay purporting to be from Blenkiron & Co. Lindsay sent the goods to Blenkarn who sold them onto Cundy without paying Lindsay.

HELD ORIGINAL CONTRACT VOID BY MISTAKE, LINDSAY REMAINED OWNER OF GOODS AND WAS ENTITLED TO RECOVER FROM CUNDY.

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