• In the case of Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 1 WLR 1204, the High Court questions whether selling a bramblefinch hen in a magazine called Cage and Aviary Bird constitutes as an invitation to treat or offer to sale.
  • This contract case concerns offer and acceptance.

Facts of the Case

  • C published an advertisement in a magazine naming wild bramblefinch birds under “classified advertisements”. C received money from another party in exchange for a bramblefinch hen.
  • At first instance, C was prosecuted by D, on behalf of the RSPCA, for unlawfully offering for sale a wild bird from the British Isles. D won at first instance under s 6 and sch 4 of the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
  • C appealed arguing the bramblefinch hen arrived wearing a removable closed ring and that the advertisement was not an offer for sale.


  • Whether there was an offer for sale.
  • Whether there was an invitation to treat.
  • Whether the bramblefinch hen was “close ringed” even though it was possible to remove the ring.

Held by High Court

  • Appeal allowed – the appellant possessed for sale this hen but there was no offer and C is not legally bound by those terms because it’s only an invitation to treat.

Ashworth J

Offer for sale

  • The magazine and the heading does not explicitly indicate that the list of birds are on offer for sale.
  • There was a completed sale because a bramblefinch bird was sent to the other party in exchange for money however at first instance the C should not have been prosecuted for the published magazine advertisement.

Definition of close-ringed

  • The judge defined close-ringed as a complete ring that can’t easily be broken or tarnished. The bramblefinch hen was not determined to be a close ringed bird.
  • “I would say if one was looking for a definition of the phrase “close-ringed” it means ringed by a complete ring, which is not capable of being forced apart or broken except, of course, with the intention of damaging it.” [5]

Lord Parker C.J.

Invitation to treat or offer

  • This case heavily references to Fisher v. Bell [1961] 1 Q.B. 394 where the stocking of flick knives was not offered for sale despite its visibility from a shop window. Similarly, these classified advertisements constitute an invitation to treat not an offer.
  • “When one is dealing with advertisements and circulars, unless they indeed come from manufacturers, there is business sense in their being construed as invitations to treat and not offers for sale” [6]