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Law cases used in International Business Law

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Gilford Motor Co Ltd v Horne (1933)
In this case, the court pierced the corporate veil, holding that a company set up by an individual to avoid restrictive covenants was a mere sham and thus, the individual was personally liable. This decision was based on the evasion principle, where the corporate form was being used to evade legal obligations.
Gibson v Manchester City Council (1979)
It was held that statements indicating a willingness to negotiate terms do not constitute a binding offer.
Hedley Byrne v Heller (1964)
This case established the principle of liability for negligent misstatements causing pure economic loss, provided there is a special relationship of proximity between the parties. The court held that the defendant could be liable for economic loss resulting from negligent advice given in the context of a special relationship.
Partridge v Crittenden
The court decided that advertisements are typically invitations to treat, not offers, thus the advertiser is not obligated to sell at the advertised price.
Donoghue v Stevenson (1932)
This case established the 'neighbour principle' in tort law. The court decided that a manufacturer owed a duty of care to the ultimate consumer of their product. Mrs. Donoghue became ill after consuming ginger beer that contained a decomposed snail. The decision emphasized that manufacturers must avoid acts or omissions that could foreseeably harm their 'neighbours,' defined as anyone who could be affected by their actions.
Guthing v Lynn (1831)
This case established that terms of an offer must be clear and unambiguous. An offer with overly vague terms cannot be enforced.
Pickfords Ltd v Celestica Ltd (2003)
The decision showed that a counteroffer revokes the original offer, and performance of the contract based on the new terms constitutes acceptance by conduct.
The Wagon Mound Case
This case established the principle of remoteness in tort, determining that a defendant is only liable for damage that was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of their negligence.
Weller v Foot and Mouth Research Institute (1966)
The court decided that the loss of profit suffered by cattle auctioneers due to an outbreak caused by a virus escaping from the defendant’s lab was pure economic loss and thus not recoverable in tort.
Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking (1971)
The court held that particularly onerous or unusual terms must be explicitly brought to the attention of the party to be bound by them, using this case to exemplify how the automatic issuance of a ticket with terms after payment did not constitute adequate notice.
Dickinson v Dodds
This case established that an offer can be revoked at any time before acceptance, and the revocation must be communicated to the offeree.
White v Jones (1995)
The lawyers were found liable for negligence because they owed a duty of care to both the testator and the intended beneficiaries of a will. The financial loss suffered by the beneficiaries was deemed reasonably foreseeable.
West Bromwich Albion Football Club Ltd v El-Safty (2006)
The surgeon was not held liable for financial loss to the football club because there was not a sufficient degree of proximity between the surgeon and the club, and no evidence suggested that the surgeon assumed such a duty of care.
Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co (1893)
This famous case upheld that an advertisement can be considered a unilateral offer if it promises a reward to the general public upon performing a specific act, leading to the enforceability of such an offer upon completion of the act.
Margereson v JW Roberts Ltd (1996)
The court found the factory owner liable for the claimant’s pulmonary illness caused by asbestos exposure. The decision emphasized that the risk was reasonably foreseeable at the time of exposure.
Jones v Lipman (1962)
The court pierced the corporate veil where a company was created to avoid a specific performance order in a contract for the sale of land. The company was deemed to be a facade to mask the true purpose of avoiding contractual obligations, making Mr. Lipman personally liable.
Nettleship v Weston (1971)
The court held that a learner driver was to be judged by the standard of a reasonably competent driver, and thus the learner was liable for injuries caused to the instructor during a driving lesson.
Caparo Industries v Dickman (1990)
The court ruled that auditors did not owe a duty of care to individual shareholders or the public at large for financial losses incurred from relying on inaccurate statutory accounts. This case established the three-stage Caparo test for duty of care: foreseeability of damage, proximity of relationship, and whether it is fair, just, and reasonable to impose a duty of care.
Evans v Triplex Safety Glass Co. Ltd (1936)
The court decided that the manufacturer was not liable for injuries caused by a shattered windscreen because too much time had passed since its manufacture, and the windscreen could have been damaged due to other reasons like poor fitting.
Routledge v Grant (1828)
The court confirmed that an offeror can withdraw their offer at any time before it is accepted, even if they have promised to keep it open for a specific time.
Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd (2013)
This case clarified the conditions under which the corporate veil can be pierced. The Supreme Court held that veil-piercing is only justified in cases of evasion, where the corporate structure is used to evade an existing legal obligation. It emphasized that veil-piercing is a remedy of last resort.
LTM/MBU (1966)
This case emphasized the need for a full examination of the effects on competition in the absence of restrictive object, requiring a comparison of competition levels before and after the agreement.
Hillas v Arcas (1932)
The decision in this case allowed for implied terms and context to be inferred from previous dealings or trade custom, recognizing the enforceability of contracts even with some missing details if the context is clear.
Hadley v Baxendale (1854)
This landmark case established the rule for determining remoteness of damages in contract law, ruling that damages are recoverable if they arise naturally from the breach or were within the contemplation of both parties at the time the contract was made.
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemist (1953)
This case clarified that items on display in a shop are an invitation to treat, not an offer, meaning the customer makes the offer to purchase, which the shop can then accept or reject.
Adams v Lindsell
The postal rule was established, determining that acceptance is effective upon posting, even if delayed or lost.
Mckew v Holland (1969)
The court decided that the defendant was not liable for additional injuries suffered by the claimant who acted unreasonably by descending a steep staircase unaided, which constituted a break in the chain of causation.
Expedia (2012)
The ECJ confirmed that agreements which have an anticompetitive object cannot benefit from the de minimis exemption, regardless of the market share of the parties involved.
Bloom v American Swiss Watch Co. (1915)
The court ruled that for a reward to be claimed, the person providing the information must have knowledge of the reward offer at the time of performing the act.
Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital (1969)
The court ruled that the hospital was not liable for the death of a patient who was sent home without proper treatment after ingesting arsenic, as the death was not causally linked to the hospital's negligence but to the arsenic poisoning itself.
Consten & Grundig (1966)
The ECJ distinguished between restrictions by object and restrictions by effect. Restrictions by object are inherently anticompetitive and do not require further analysis of their actual effects on the market.
Olley v Marlborough Court Ltd. (1949)
The decision in this case clarified that terms must be made known to the contracting party before or at the time of contracting. A notice displayed in a hotel room was held to be ineffective because the contract was formed at the reception desk.
Ashton v Turner
The court ruled that the claimant could not recover damages from a driver involved in a joint criminal enterprise due to public policy reasons. This decision emphasized that the law does not support compensation claims arising from the commission of a crime.
Byrne v Van Tienhoven (1880)
It was decided that revocation of an offer is only effective when it is received by the offeree.
Hoffmann-La Roche (1979)
This case defined dominance as a position of economic strength that allows an undertaking to prevent effective competition and behave independently of its competitors, customers, and consumers. The court also emphasized that dominance itself is not illegal, only its abuse is prohibited.
Kodak case
This case involved issues with incorrect pricing in online advertisements, highlighting the need for companies to clearly state terms to avoid unintended contractual obligations.
Kelly v GE Healthcare (2009)
This case dealt with patent rights and emphasized that inventions created by employees in the course of their employment typically belong to the employer.
Hollier v Rambler Motors Ltd. (1972)
This case established that exemption clauses must be clearly incorporated into a contract to be effective. The decision indicated that merely displaying terms in a notice was insufficient to incorporate the terms into the contract.
Spurling v Bradshaw (1956)
This case reinforced the principle that exclusion clauses could be validly incorporated through consistent prior dealings between the parties, even if the clause was not mentioned in the specific contract in question.
Stevenson v McLean (1880)
The court held that an inquiry about terms does not constitute a counteroffer and does not terminate the original offer.
Höfner and Elsner v Macrotron (1991)
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) defined an undertaking as 'every entity engaged in an economic activity,' which encompasses any activity consisting in offering goods and services on a given market. This case clarified the broad application of competition law to various entities engaged in economic activities.
Butler Machine Tool v Ex-Cell-O Corp.
This case established the 'battle of the forms' principle, where the last set of terms exchanged before performance of the contract typically becomes the binding terms.
Salomon v Salomon & Co. Ltd. (1897)
This landmark case established the principle of separate legal personality, meaning that a corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders. Mr. Salomon was not personally liable for the company’s debts, emphasizing that once a company is duly incorporated, it must be treated as an independent person under the law.
Chappelton v Barry UDC (1940)
The court ruled that a ticket containing an exemption clause handed over after the contract was concluded did not form part of the contract, thereby making the clause unenforceable.
Fisher v Bell
This case reinforced that items displayed in shop windows are invitations to treat, not offers, meaning the retailer is not obliged to sell the items at the displayed price.
AKZO/ECS (1991)
The ECJ established a presumption of dominance for companies with a market share above 50%, reinforcing the legal threshold for presumed market power.
Hyde v Wrench (1840)
This case ruled that a counteroffer constitutes a rejection of the original offer, which cannot then be accepted.
Michelin I (1983)
The ECJ clarified that an undertaking in a dominant position has a special responsibility not to impair genuine competition and that abuse can be identified without proving intent.
Ambulanz Glöckner (2001)
The ECJ further defined ‘economic activity’ and held that even non-profit organizations could be considered undertakings if they engage in activities that compete with other economic entities.
Adams v Cape Industries Plc (1990)
The court held that a parent company is not liable for the debts of its subsidiaries unless it can be shown that the subsidiary was a mere façade for the parent company’s operations. This case reinforced the principle that the corporate veil cannot be pierced merely because justice demands it.
Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (1989)
The court held that the police did not owe a duty of care to individual members of the public to protect them from a serial killer due to lack of proximity and public policy concerns, as imposing liability could hinder effective policing.
GSK (General Court, 2009)
The court held that certain restrictions by object, such as agreements fixing prices or limiting production, are automatically considered anticompetitive without needing to assess their actual impact on the market.
Harvey v Facey (1893)
The decision clarified that providing information, such as a price, in response to an inquiry does not constitute an offer.
Völk (1969)
The ECJ ruled that agreements with only an insignificant effect on the relevant market fall outside the scope of Article 101(1) TFEU, highlighting the importance of the de minimis principle in competition law.
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