Citation : [1893] 1 QB 256

Bench: Lindley LJ, Bowen LJ, and AL Smith LJ

Date of Judgement: 7 December 1892


In this case, a company named Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. released an advertisement, to pay 100 pounds to anyone who suffers from influenza, cold, or any other related disease, and that claims after taking the ball as per the printed directions disease will be diagnosed. To make it more serious, they added that “1000 pounds are deposited with the Alliance Bank showing our sincerity in the manner.” The plaintiff, suffering from influenza, used the ball according to the prescribed manner but her disease was not diagnosed. She filed a suit to claim the reward.

Issue raised : 

1. Whether the language used in the advertisement regarding the offer to pay 100 pounds was really an express promise or rather it was merely a sales puff?


It was held that the plaintiff was entitled to claim the promised amount. The defendant contended that there was no intention to create any legal relationship, and the advertisement was simply a sales puff.

Justice Bowen LJ observed that the advertisement says that 1000 pounds are deposited in the bank for that purpose. So, It cannot be said that the statement of giving a reward of 100 pounds is mere a sale puff and not intended to form a legal relationship. He also said that when an offer is made world at large, can ripen into a contract if anybody who comes forward and performs the conditions. 

The ratio decidendi of this case was that the advertisement published by the Carbolic Smoke Ball company was a unilateral contract, and whoever comes forward and performs the condition of the proposal, converts the offer into a binding contract.

Personal Opinion:

This is a landmark case of a general offer. By this verdict, the court provides a clear picture of a situation which occurs in our daily life. It describes and clears the importance of the acceptance to the offer. Through this decision, we can differentiate between a sales puff and actual offer or proposal as the court has clearly differentiated both. 

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