Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.

Categories: CarInfluenza


The Offenders were a medical company called “Carbolic Smoke Ball”. Who produced and sold an item called the “smoke ball”, a remedy for influenza and a variety of other diseases. The company released ads in the Pall Shopping Mall Gazette and other newspapers on November 13, 1891, claiming that it would pay ₤ 100 to anybody who got ill with influenza after utilizing its item 3 times a day for 2 weeks, according to the guidelines offered with it. The advertisement likewise declared that ₤ 1000 was being transferred into the bank to show their genuineness.

The plaintiff, Mrs Louisa Elizabeth purchased among these balls after seeing the ad. She utilized it three times daily for almost two months up until she contracted the flu on 17 January 1892. She took legal action against the business to recuperate the cash promised in the ad. Procedural history

Appeal from decision of Hawkins J. where he held that the complainant, Ms. Carlill was entitled to recover ₤ 100. Problem:

Does an advertisement to the basic public appealing to pay money to anybody who does something create a binding contract in between the parties?


The Offender argued that there was no contract between it which there was no acceptance of its offer.

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So the contract was too vague to be enforced, there was no chance to check the conditions were met, you can not contract with everybody and the timeframe was not specified. Likewise the approval had actually not been interacted to the offeror. And the last argument was that there was no factor to consider: nudum pactum.

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The plaintiff’s argument was that she just followed the buildings. The advertisement was likewise an offer were under an obligation to satisfy since it was released so it would be read and abided. The promise was likewise not vague.


The court rejected both arguments of the company, ruling that the advertisement was an offer of a unilateral contract between the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company and anyone who satisfies the conditions set out in the advertisement. According to the judgment of lord justice Lindley, “…the person who makes the offer shows by his language and from the of the transaction that he does not expect and does not require notice of the acceptance apart from notice of the performance.”

The advertisement was an express promise to pay 100 pounds to anyone who contracts flu after using the ball three times daily for two weeks. Also the ad was not a mere puff: “ 1000 is deposited with the Alliance Bank, showing our sincerity in the matter” , which is a proof of sincerity to pay. The promise is binding even though not made particular, a unilateral offer. The advertisement is not so vague that it cannot be construed as a promise because the words can be reasonably construed . Notification of acceptance

The notification of the acceptance need not precede the performance- “ this offer is a continuing offer”. If notice of acceptance is required, the person who makes offer gets the notice of acceptance contemporaneously with the notice of the performance of the condition. Also when there is an offer to the world at large, acceptance is legally valid when the offeree communicates to the offeror notice of performance of the specified conditions. This means acceptance is not legally valid when notification of the performance of the specified conditions does not occur.


There was consideration in this case for two reasons: first reason is that the carbolic received a benefit. In the sales directly beneficial to them by advertising the Carbolic smoke ball. The second reason is that the performance of the specified conditions constitutes consideration for the promise. The judgment of Lord Justice Bowen : How would an ordinary person construe this document? Was it intended that the 100 should, if the conditions were fulfilled, be paid? The advertisement says that 1000 is lodged at the bank for this purpose.

Therefore the statement was not a mere puff, “I think it was intended to be understood by the public as an offer which was to be acted upon.” According to the judgment of Bowen LJ, the contract was not too vague to be enforced. Whereby an offer can be made to the whole world and will ripen into a contract with anybody who comes forward and performs the condition. Notification of acceptance

There is no need for notification of acceptance of the offer ( Bowen LJ differs from Lindley LJ on this point). Because an inference should be drawn from the transaction itself that if he performs the condition there is no need for notification.


Lord Justice Bowel founds that there was consideration for the problem for same reasons as Lindley LJ. The consideration was using the smoke ball and the reason of using the smoke balls would promote their sale. And finally Lord Justice AL Smith decides on same basis as Bowen LJ.

Ratio decidendi:

In unilateral contracts, communication of acceptance is not expected or necessary. Advertisements of unilateral contracts are treated as offers. Where the language is clear that an ordinary person would construe an intention to offer, anyone who relies on this offer and performs the required conditions thereby accepts the offer and forms an enforceable contract.


The contract was binding and the defendant was ordered to pay the 100 to the plaintiff. Appeal Dismissed.

Cite this page

Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.. (2016, Oct 17). Retrieved from

Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.

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