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PSGB v Boots

[1952] 2 QB 795

Case summary last updated at 03/01/2020 13:46 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case PSGB v Boots

Under a statute pharmacists were required to supervise the sale of drugs and Boots’ self service system was accused of breaching this. Boots’ pharmacists were close by to the self-service check-out desk and were authorised to intervene and prevent sales of drugs if need be. Whether or not there was a breach of the statutory duty came down to whether the contract (and hence an unsupervised sale) was already formed before reaching the checkout or not. If prices were offers then putting them in the basket would be acceptance and there would be a breach. If prices were merely invitations to treat then it was the customers who made the offer at the checkout, which could be refused by the supervising pharmacist. The CA ruled that advertisements and offers were merely invitations to treat and hence Boots were acquitted of breach of duty. 
 
Somervell LJ: To say that the advertisement/price tag is an offer would make the taking of the object an acceptance, which would make the self service mechanism in breach of the statute- he would be reluctant to refuse to allow this more efficient type of checkout. Romer LJ: to say that the price tag is an offer would mean that once a person has picked up the object they could never put it back on the shelf or be in breach of the contract: wrong: the courts could simply treat this as an act of contemplation whereas presenting it at the checkout would be the “acceptance- see CW’s objections: the rule prevents advertising of illegal weapons/substances (Fisher v Bell) from being criminalised since an advert isn’t an offer, and it allows proprietors to demand different prices to those on the price tags.  Also fails to distinguish from the Carlil case- i.e. a guidance of when advertising CAN be an offer is needed 

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