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Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.

poster of advert for carbolic smoke ball

Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. is probably the most famous case in English contract law. The facts were as follows �
In 1892 the Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. advertised a �100 reward for anyone who used its Smoke Ball and yet contracted influenza. When a certain Mrs Carlill claimed the reward, the company told her that it considered her claim "impertinent" and referred her to its solicitor. It insisted that the offer of �100 was mere marketing 'puff' and not intended to give rise to a contract. She argued that it was a genuine offer which she had, by purchasing and using the Smoke Ball as advertised, accepted.
Mrs Carlill won the case and the rules of 'offer' and 'acceptance' were established as a precedent in contract law.
The company subsequently folded, while Mrs Carlill lived to the ripe old age of ninety-six, dying in 1942 � mainly of old age but also, according to her doctor, of . . . influenza.