Disclaimer: This work was produced by one of our expert legal writers, as a learning aid to help law students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of LawTeacher.net. Any information contained in this case summary does not constitute legal advice and should be treated as educational content only.

Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co - 1893

337 words (1 pages) Case Summary

24th Sep 2021 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Legal Case Summary

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

Emphasised the significance of offer and acceptance in contract law; distinguishes between offers and invitations to treat.


The defendant, the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, placed an advertisement in a newspaper for their products, stating that any person who purchased and used their product but still contracted influenza despite properly following the instructions would be entitled to a £100 reward. The advert further stated that the company had demonstrated its sincerity by placing £1000 in a bank account to act as the reward. The claimant, Mrs Carlill, thus purchased some smoke balls and, despite proper use, contracted influenza and attempted to claim the £100 reward from the defendants. The defendants contended that they could not be bound by the advert as it was an invitation to treat rather than an offer on the grounds that the advert was: mere ‘puff’ and lacking true intent; that an offer could not be made ‘to the world’; the claimant had not technically provided acceptance; the wording of the advert was insufficiently precise; and, that there was no consideration, as necessary for the creation of a binding contract in law.


Whether the advert in question constituted an offer or an invitation to treat.


The Court of Appeal found for the claimant, determining that the advert amounted to the offer for a unilateral contract by the defendants. In completing the conditions stipulated by the advert, Mrs Carlill provided acceptance. The Court further found that: the advert’s own claim to sincerity negated the company’s assertion of lacking intent; an offer could indeed be made to the world; wording need only be reasonably clear to imply terms rather than entirely clear; and consideration was identifiable in the use of the balls.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

Jurisdictions / Tags

Content relating to: "UK Law"

UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.

Related Articles