Railways and the law

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.


About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in contract law, law, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Railways and the law

  1. surliminal says:

    Lord Young nearly always dissented.
    I can’t tell you the horrors of dealing with a legal system which requires consideration.. like that awkward little family secret that pops up when you hope everyone’s forgotten about it.. And as for proprietary estoppel…:(((( I now forgive Ken everything, ever.

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