P was a council tenant and recived a letter from D inviting an application to buy the council house
D's letter stated: .. The Corporation may be prepared to sell the house to you at the purchase price of £2,725... If you would like to make formal application to buy your Council house, please complete the enclosed application form...
P completed the application
D was a newly elected council and refused to accept P's application
P sued for breach of contract
did D make an offer or invitation to treat?
held that D's letter was not a contractual offer, which P could accept
formal application by P was an offer, that D did not accept
Lord Diplock: The words 'may be prepared to sell' are fatal... [D's letter is] setting out the financial terms on which it may be the council will be prepared to consider a sale and purchase in due course...
Storer v Manchester City Council  3 All ER 824
earlier case also involving a council tenant's right to buy his property
D sent P a document titled Agreement for Sale and a letter which stated: If you will sign the Agreement and return it, I will send you the Agreement signed on behalf of the council in exchange
P signed and returned the Agreement for Sale
Labour party took control of the council and did not return a signed copy, refusing to sell the property
P sued for breach of contract
was there an agreement?
there was a binding obligation on D to sell
Lord Denning: In contracts you do not look into the actual intent in a man's mind. You look to what he said and did. A contract is formed when there is, to all outward appearances, contract. A man cannot get out of a contract by saying 'I did not intend to contract' if by his words he has done so...
objectively, to a reaosnable man D's letter appeared to commit to selling the property if P returned the documents
whether items on display in a shop constitute an offer or an invitation to treat
timing of the acceptance is a central factor
a contract is concluded and becomes binding on the parties once the offeree accepts the offer (in full and to all the terms)
after a customer selects a product from the shelf he can change his mind until he takes the item to a checkout
at this point the customer is making an offer to pay for the goods and the store accepts when payment is taken
D's advertisement stated: £100 reward will be paid by the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company to any person who contracts the influenza after having used the ball three times daily for two weeks according to the printed directions supplied with each ball... £1000 is deposited with the Alliance Bank, showing our sincerity in the matter...
P's claim was refused and D argued that the advertisement: was mere puff, had not been addressed to specific persons and that the P had not communicated notice of her acceptance
was D's advertisement an offer?
advertisement was not mere puff as D had explicitly stated money had been set aside to make such payments
a reasonable person reading the advertisement would take it to be a serious offer which amounted to a binding obligation
although an offer must usually be addressed to specific person or class of persons, the advertisement was being made to anyone who met the criteria set out and this was sufficient
the wording of the advertisement meant P did not have to communicate acceptance, as clearly D did not expect every customer to contact them on purchasing the item, rather only those who used the product as directed and then caught influenza
case established that advertisements can constitute an offer to the public at large and can be worded to waive the need to communicate acceptance prior to a claim
rewards are unilateral contracts where the promisor is bound to perform his promise if the other party performs the required act
in contrast to a bilateral contract where one party offers a promise in return for the promise of the other
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