PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN VS BOOTS CASH CHEMISTS

INTRODUCTION

The most well-known instance of contract law is "Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists." The distinction between "an offer and an invitation" to make an offer was defined by the court. The offeror makes a request for the offeree's consent to do something or refrain from doing something. The act where a party requests the other party to make an offer or a proposal in order to create a contract is termed "Invitation to Offer".



Sometimes, rather than offering to sell his wares, a person would make a remark or provide information with the intention of encouraging others to make an effort on that premise. "Invitation to Offer" is the name of the document. If someone is interested in buying the item or other items, he or she can make an offer, which the person can either accept or refuse.

The defendants' single-room branch store was converted to a "self-service" operation. The room had a chemist's department, supervised by a certified pharmacist, where numerous pharmaceuticals and proprietary medicines, as well as those containing substances, were presented on sills in packets, with prices clearly stated.



As soon as a customer entered the store, he was handed a wire basket, which he filled with things from the shelves and took it to the desk of the cashier, which was situated at the exit, where the clerk declared the entire amount and collected payment. The chief pharmacist of the department examines the sale of medicine with every transaction.

In the department, there is a self-service system. That system was not an offer to sell, but rather an invitation to the consumer to propose a purchase; that there was no violation of the rule; and that the accepted offer before the cashier's desk was all examined by the pharmacist department's chief.



DETAILS OF THE CASE

CASE NAME:

Pharmaceutical Society of GB v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd. [1953] EWCA Civ 6

APPELLANT:

Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

RESPONDENT:

Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd.


COURT:

Court of Appeal England and Wales

DECIDED:

5th Feb 1953

CITATION(s):

EWCA Civ 6, [1953] 1 QB 401, [1953] 1 All ER 482, [1953] 2 WLR 427


JUDGES:

Somervell LJ, Birkett LJ and Romer LJ

COUNTRY:

United Kingdom

AREA OF LAW:

Offer, Invitation to Offer

ISSUE:

At what stage of a purchase in a self-serve store is there an accepted offer?


FACTS OF THE CASE

  • The defendants ran a drug-retail operation out of Edgware, where they sold narcotics on a regular basis. There was a written notice at the door that said "Boot's Self-Service." And there was only a room that had been modified so that clients could help themselves with service.

  • Each client chose the item he wanted to buy from the shelves and put it in the shopping basket. In order to leave, there were two exits, and the consumer could pass through any of the two exits, to a counter where the items chosen by the customer were investigated by the cashier, assessed their worth, and received payment.

  • The pharmacist was permitted by the defendants to prohibit any consumer from taking any medicine from the premises at that point of the transaction, if he considered it necessary.

The defendants made no effort to advise clients of the pharmacist's authorization before they chose any of the items they wanted to buy.



CONTENTIONS OF PLAINTIFF

They alleged that "Section 18(1) of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act of 1933" was violated, which specifies that "The sale of poisons included in Part I of the Poisons List" shall be overseen by a registered pharmacist. The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's job is to maintain and enforce this part, and the plaintiffs claim that the self-service system does so. It invites the consumer to buy the things by plainly displaying the price of each item on the shelves, which represents an offer, and the customer's acceptance of the offer to sell is evidenced by their taking of an item. They argue that placing things in the shopping cart constitutes acceptance of the store's offer, and that the contract is created at that point. As a result, there was no oversight on where the pills and medicines were stored, but rather on the cash register.



CONTENTIONS OF DEFENDANT

The defendant contended that the transaction would only be finalised after the customer paid at the counter and a licenced pharmacologist was there to supervise it.


RATIO DECIDENDI

"Justice Somervell, Justice Birkett, and Justice Romer were the judges who heard this case." The appeal by the society was dismissed by the court and the decision of the trial court was stated.

The reasons, which were given by the judges, are mentioned below:

  • The things that are present in the chemist's shop are more like an "invitation to offer" rather than an actual offer.

  • The cashier is under the jurisdiction of the owner and must accept the payment. Hence, the contract does not become binding until the cashier agrees to sell.



DECISION

The shop's self-service method was regarded to be an invitation to offer to the customer, which was monitored by the pharmacist, and only then could it be purchased. This is exacerbated by the fact that the consumer cannot use the drugs until he has paid for them. If the customer has not paid for the medicines, he has the option to return the medicines. If the payment for the medicines has been made, then only the contract will be said to be formed.



CONCLUSION

The case "Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists" is a contract law case. It proves the point of an invitation to offer. Clarification on this topic was desperately needed. It aided in the evolution of contract law and common law systems. This case has demonstrated the difference between "an offer and an invitation to offer". Hence, with the help of this case, it has been held that in a self-serving shop, the offer will only be accepted once the customer has paid for the selected item.



This article is written by Aman Tiwari of Delhi Metropolitan Education, Noida.

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