<i>Quackery and Contract Law</i>: Carlill <i>v</i>. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company (<i>1893</i>)

A. W. Brian Simpson

in Leading Cases in the Common Law

Published in print September 1996 | ISBN: 9780198262992
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682438 | DOI:
Quackery and Contract Law: Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company (1893)

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This chapter discusses the case of Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. Continuously studied though it has been by lawyers and law students for close to a century, an air of mystery long surrounded the case; even at the time the very form taken by the celebrated smoke ball was unknown to Lindley LJ, who adjudicated in the case in the Court of Appeal. He is reported to have referred to it as ‘a thing they call the ‘Carbolic Smoke Ball’. What that is, I don't know’. Happily, a considerable volume of material survives that makes it possible to recreate at least something of the historical background and significance of this landmark in the history of contract law and its relationship to the seedy world of the late 19th-century vendors of patent medical appliances.

Keywords: common law; contract law; medical appliances

Chapter.  16750 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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