While browsing Alastair’s blog (the Heart Monitor) yesterday I noted that he had posted about an old contract law case – Carlill v Carbolic Smokeball Company taught to Alastair by his Latin teacher – and had posted some pictures of the advertisements in that case. Carlill is a case that has only been applied twice in Scots law (as Scots law accepts the doctrine of unilateral promise and consequently a rule binding advertisers who promise special prizes or other delights is not necessary in Scotland. The two Scottish cases are the “Tit-bits” cases, and both of which involve Tit-bits magazine in a rather gruesome practice
There is a decent summary of their effect in Huntley, Cases and Materials on COntract law (1st edn, 1995) “Law v George Newnes Ltd (1894) 21 R 1027 and Hunter v Hunter (1904) 7 F 136 both concerned advertisements which appeared in Newnes’s newspapers to the effect that a specified sum of money would be paid to any person adjudged by the proprietors to be the next-of-kin of a person killed in a railway accident. The only proviso was that the person killed had in his or her possession at the time of the accident a copy of the current issue of the relevant publication. In both cases, relatives challenged the proprietors’ selection of next of kin.
“In both cases a similarly composed Court of Session, rejected both claims on the apparent basis that there was a contractual obligation to pay the money to the person whom the proprietors adjudged to be the next-of-kin, although this finding was not essential to either decision. (Lord Young, however, in both cases doubted whether there was any contractual obligation, seeing the advertisement as a mere inducement to purchase the newspaper.)”
Lord Young nearly always dissented.
I’ll try to find the terms of the adverts in the case reports and post them in due course.