1.On 2nd January 1999, Sarah reads in a local newspaper, "The BrightonBugle",
that a well known local sports enthusiast, Mick Muscle, was offering
£5,000 to the first person to swim from Southsea to the Isle of Wightbefore
10th January, 1999. Sarah, a keen swimmer, set about her preparations.
On 6th January, 1999, a retraction appeared in "The Hove Herald'
stating that Mick's original offer was cancelled and, instead, the
prize was now to be £500 to the first person to cycle from Brighton to
Oxford before 12th January, 1999. Sarah was a regular reader of "The
BrightonBugle" and no other newspaper. She did not see the retraction
in "The HoveHerald".
On 9th January, Sarah went down to the beach at Southsea to commence
her swim to the Isle of Wight. A bystander, who identified himself as
Rick Muscle (Mick's brother), told her that the swimming prize had
been cancelled and she should "go and get her cycling gear on". Sarah
disregarded this statement and proceeded with her swim.
Rick Muscle notified his brother, Mick, who promptly hired a boat and
caught up with Sarah in the middle of her swim. Mick shouted at her
through a megaphone, telling her of the withdrawal of the reward for
the swim. Sarah was not deterred and completed her swim to the Isle of
Wight. On returning to her home in Brighton, she decided to cycle to
Oxfordthe next day to see her best friend. She reached Oxfordon the
evening of 11th January. She now wishes to claim both the £5,000 for
being the first person to swim to the Isle of Wightand, having later
learnt of the prize, the £500 for cycling to Oxford.
The first thing to ascertain is whether the advertisement constitutes
an 'offer' or an 'invitation to treat'.
An advertisement, at least in the case of bilateral contracts, is
generally construed as being an 'invitation to treat'. Authority
for this can be found in Partridge v Crittenden, where the
appellant had been convicted in the criminal courts of 'offering for
sale' rare birds through an advertisement in a periodical. On appeal,
the advertisement was held to be an 'invitation to treat', since it
was necessary to protect the advertiser from liability in Contract
should demand for the advertised goods exceed supply. As a result,
the appellant's criminal conviction was quashed.
In contrast, advertisements may sometimes be construed as being an
offer if they are of the unilateral type, where one party promises
something in return for the specified act of another. The general rule
in Contract Law is that acceptance must be communicated to the
offeror, but in unilateral offers, performance of the specified act
constitutes acceptance . In Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.,
the defendants advertised that they would pay £100 to anyone who