Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Chapelton v Barry Urban District Council  1 KB 532, the Court of Appeal ruled that displaying deckchairs can be an offer worthy of acceptance instead of an invitation to treat.
- This contract case concerned exclusion clauses, sale of goods and contract terms.
- This case symbolized the distinction between an invitation to treat and offer and acceptance.
Facts of the Case
- C wanted a deck chair. D put up a notice besides the deck chairs persuading the public to obtain tickets for the chairs and to be aware of the chair costs.
- C followed the instructions of the council. The tickets explicitly stated that D would not be liable for any damage. C’s chair broke and he claimed damages for negligence.
- The lower courts ruled D’s negligence caused the chair to break yet C had reasonable notice of the exclusion clause.
- What were the terms of hire?
- Was there an exclusion clause?
- Was D liable?
Held by Court of Appeal
- Appeal allowed – the ticket was an invitation to treat and the notice contained the actual information on the hiring conditions.
- The judge referred to Parker v South Eastern Railway  2 CPD 416 to emphasize the significance of bringing terms to another party’s attention.
- “Questions of this sort are always questions of difficulty and are very often largely questions of fact. In the class of case where it is said that there is a term in the contract freeing railway companies, or other providers of facilities, from liabilities which they would otherwise incur at common law, it is a question as to how far that condition has been made a term of the contract and whether it has been sufficiently brought to the notice of the person entering into the contract with the railway company, or other body, and there is a large number of authorities on that point. In my view, however, the present case does not come within that category at all.”
- The notice did not contain a clause excluding D’s liability.
- C paid to sit on the deckchair and took the receipt to prove that he paid.
- “I cannot imagine that anybody paying 2d under those circumstances for the privilege of sitting in a chair on the beach would think for one moment that some conditions were being imposed upon him which would limit his ordinary rights, or that the document he received when paying his 2d was a contractual document in any shape or form. I think the ticket he received was nothing but a receipt for his 2d – a receipt which showed him how long he might use the chair.”