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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H00M01S

GardenGear, a company specialising in gardening equipment, inadvertently listed lawnmowers for £50 instead of the usual £500 on its online store due to a typographical error by marketing assistant, Lucy Thompson. The mistake was quickly spotted and corrected within hours, but not before hundreds of potential customers saw the advertisement. Among them was Charles Green, an avid gardener, who attempted to purchase multiple units at the reduced price. When GardenGear refused his order, citing the obvious error, Charles argued that an offer had been made that he had accepted, insisting on the lawnmowers at the advertised price. 

What is the legal nature of the advertisement by GardenGear?

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In English contract law, advertisements are generally considered as invitations to treat, not offers. This distinction means that the advertiser is not making a binding offer that can be accepted by anyone who "accepts" it online; rather, they are inviting customers to make an offer to purchase at the listed price. In the case of GardenGear, the £50 price was clearly a mistake, and as an invitation to treat, the company is not legally bound to sell the lawnmowers at that price.

Key Points:

  1. Invitation to Treat: Advertisements typically constitute an invitation for potential buyers to make an offer, which the seller can then accept or reject.

  2. Error in Advertisement: Where a price is obviously erroneous, as in this case, the law does not oblige the seller to honour this price once the error is acknowledged.

  3. Contract      Formation: A contract is formed only when an offer is accepted. Here,      the advertisement does not constitute an offer but an invitation to negotiate.

  4. Partridge v Crittenden Precedent: A cornerstone of contract law, reflects the principle that advertisements are usually invitations to treat rather than offers. Its influence is significant, shaping the legal landscape surrounding advertisements and contract formation.

This question highlights the legal principles surrounding advertisements and the formation of contracts, ensuring clarity in commercial transactions.

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