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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M55S

Charlie's Car Sales placed a notice in a trade magazine announcing a car auction to be held outside Riverton Park on Friday morning. Lisa read the advertisement, took a day off work, and travelled 20 miles from her home, only to find that the auction had been cancelled. She is considering bringing an action for breach of contract against Charlie's Car Sales to recover her expenses for attending the advertised event.

Can she sue Charlie's Car Sales for her out-of-pocket expenses on the basis of breach of contract?

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An auctioneer's call for bids is regarded as an invitation to treat, which is a mere request for offers. In Harris v Nickerson (1873) LR 8 QB 286, it was established that an advertisement for an auction does not constitute an offer that can be accepted to form a binding contract. Therefore, Charlie's Car Sales did not create a contract with Lisa merely by advertising the auction. There was no intention to create legal relations, and thus Lisa cannot claim damages for her expenses based on a breach of contract. 

Key Point: In English contract law, advertisements and announcements for auctions are typically considered invitations to treat rather than offers. This principle prevents undue liability for advertisers and ensures that contracts are only formed when both parties have a clear intention to create legal relations.

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