Knife

Fisher v Bell [1961] 1 QB 394 was a landmark case in contract law concerning the circumstances under which a contractual offer is said to have been made.

For a contract to be legally enforceable in English law, three conditions must be met: offer, acceptance, consideration and an intention to create legal relations. In Fisher, it was established that a shop keeper who displays a flick knife for sale in a window along with a price cannot be considered to have made an offer.

Instead, the display was an ‘invitation to treat’. The offer would only occur once a customer offered to buy the knife.

The law was subsequently amended by the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1961 (9 & 10 Eliz 2 c. 22) so that anyone who ‘exposes or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire’ a flick knife has committed an offence. The nature of what constitutes an offer and an invitation to treat in contract law remains the same, however.

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