Fisher v Bell (Offer v invitation to treat)
Areas of applicable law: Contract law – Invitation to treat:
Main arguments in this case: Invitation to treat is not an offer.
The fact of the case: The defendant, Mr Bell, who was a shopkeeper and in his shop window he had displayed a flick knife priced at 4 shillings. He was prosecuted for offering to sell a flick knife which was a criminal offence under the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959.
The matter before the court was if the display of the knife was an offer of sell or was just an invitation to treat.
At the first trial the defendant was acquitted of any wrong doing as the court found for the defendant and stated that displaying a knife in the shop window was merely an invitation to treat. The prosecution applied.
The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision and stated that though at first glance it might seem that displaying a knife in the shop window constituted an offer of sale, but legally such display was an invitation to treat and never an offer.