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General Principle:

Advertisements in periodicals are typically invitations to treat.


Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 2 All ER 421


A message that said "Bramblefinch cocks and hens, 25s each" was posted in this section of the classified ads page of a publication that was intended for bird enthusiasts. Crittenden was prosecuted under the Protection of Birds Act 1954 for ‘offering’ wild birds “for sale”. The defendant was accused of breaking the law by illegally providing a wild live bird for sale, which is a violation of section 6(1) and schedule 4 of the Preservation of Birds Act from 1954. It was decided in this case that the advertising was just an invitation to treat rather than an offer to sell, and as a result, the plaintiff could not be guilty of the offence as it was charged.


The court held in Partridge v Crittenden the posted advertisement to be an invitation to treat rather than an offer. It was just an expression of Crittenden’s desire to receive offers from potential buyers as the starting point for further negotiation.


Lord Parker CJ stated in this case as obiter:

“I think that when one is dealing with advertisements and circulars, then, unless they come from the manufacturers, there is business sense in [advertisements] being construed as invitations to treat and not offers for sale.”

Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 2 All ER 421


Similarly advertisements in periodicals and magazines are typically ITT. The court in Partridge v Crittenden decided that the posted advertisement was more of an invitation to treat than an offer. Crittenden simply expressed his intention to accept proposals from prospective purchasers as a starting point for future negotiations.

Using the above case law analysis, ELtd’s advertised in British Magazines for the sales of pens at £120 constituted an ITT and not an offer. Hence the ITT was incapable of being accepted by the VC of Knowledge University who saw the advert and decided to visit Elegant Ltd to make purchases. When ELtd informed VC of the change in price and informed him that a pack of pens sells for £130, this was the initial offer which VC could choose to accept or reject. There has been no breach of terms.

Partridge v Crittenden

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