Brogden v Metropolitan Railway (1877) 2 App Cas 666

Contract – Acceptance – Offer – Written Contract – Draft – Obligation - Validity


The complainants, Brogden, were suppliers of coal to the defendant, Metropolitan Railway. They completed business dealings regarding the coal frequently for a number of years, on an informal basis. There was no written contract between the complainant and the defendant. However, the parties decided that it would be best for a formal contract to be written for their future business dealings. The Metropolitan Railway made a draft contract and sent this to Brogden to review. The complainant made some minor amendments to this draft and filled in some blanks that were left. He sent this amended document back to the defendant. Metropolitan Railway filed this document, but they never communicated their acceptance of this amended contract to the complainants. During this time, business deals continued and Brogden continued to supply coal to the Metropolitan Railway.


When a dispute arose, the issue in this case was whether there was a contract between Brogden and the Metropolitan Railway and if the written agreement they had was valid.


The House of Lords held that there was a valid contract between suppliers, Brogden and the Metropolitan Railway. The draft contract that was amended constituted a counter offer, which was accepted by the conduct of the parties. The prices agreed in the draft contract were paid and coal was delivered. Although there had been no communication of acceptance, performing the contract without any objections was enough.