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Carbolic Smoke Ball

The year is 1892 and Solicitors Journal reports on what will become a seminal law school case

6 December 2016

The Court of Appeal have affirmed the decision of Hawkins, J., in Carlill v. The Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., and the case will henceforth be the leading authority as to the validity of contracts by advertisement.

The objections that the contract was either a wagering contract or a contract of insurance, and in the latter case void under 14 Geo. 3, c. 48, were scarcely dealt with, Lindley, L.J., contenting himself with saying that he agreed with the judgment of Hawkins, J., on these points. And that the company’s offer, which was an offer by advertisement to pay £100 to anyone who should contract influenza after using a smoke ball in the prescribed manner, was intended simply as a puff, and not as an offer which the company meant to be taken seriously, was held to be disproved by their declaration that £1,000 had been deposited at a bank as a guarantee of their sincerity.

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