Agreement in English Law - Offer - Invitations To Treat

Invitations To Treat

Where a product in large quantities is advertised for in a newspaper or on a poster, it is generally regarded as an offer, however if the person who is to buy the advertised product is of importance, i.e. his personality etc., when buying e.g. land, it is merely an invitation to treat. In Carbolic Smoke Ball, the major difference was that a reward was included in the advertisement which is a general exception to the rule and is then treated as an offer. Whether something is classified as an offer or an invitation to treat depends on the type of agreement being made and the nature of the sale. In retail situations an item being present is normally considered an invitation to treat; this was established for items on display in shop windows in Fisher v Bell 1 QB 394 and for items on shelves in Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd 1 QB 401.

Retail agreements can also be considered invitations to treat if there is simply not enough information in the initial statement for it to constitute an offer. In Partridge v Crittenden 1 WLR 1204 the defendant had placed an advertisement indicating that he had certain birds for sale, giving a price but no information about quantities. He was arrested under the Protection of Birds Act 1954 for 'offering such birds for sale'; it was ruled that since the advertisement did not specify the number of birds he had it could not constitute an offer; if it did he could have been legally bound to provide more birds than he possessed. The same principle was applied for catalogues in Grainger v Gough AC 325, when it was ruled that posting catalogues of items for sale to people did not constitute an offer since there was insufficient detail.

  • Chapelton v Barry UDC
  • Spencer v Harding (1870) LR 5 CP 561
  • Harvey v Facey AC 552

Read more about this topic:  Agreement In English Law, Offer

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