Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd
Court of Appeal
Citations:  1 QB 401;  2 WLR 427;  1 All ER 482; (1953) 117 JP 132; (1953) 97 SJ 149;  CLY 2267.
The defendant owned a small pharmacy in which goods were displayed on shop shelves along with their prices. Customers would enter the shop and take the goods they wanted to the cashier’s counter. A pharmacist would then check the sale and either approve it or refuse to sell the drugs.
The claimant contended that this arrangement violated s.18(1)(a)(iii) of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1933. That provision required the sale of certain substances to be effected or supervised by a pharmacist. The claimant argued that displaying the goods on the shop shelves was an offer to sell, which the customer accepted by taking the goods to the cashier. This meant that the sale was effected before the pharmacist got involved. Since there would be a binding contract at the stage, the pharmacist would have no power to stop the customer taking the drugs.
- Is displaying goods on a shop shelf an offer to sell?
The Court held in favour of the defendant. Displaying goods on a shop shelf is not an offer. Instead, the customers made the offer when they brought the goods to the counter. The pharmacist would then make the decision as to whether to sell. If they did authorise the sale, the cashier would accept the customer’s offer. There was therefore no breach of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act.
This Case is Authority For…
Displaying goods on a shop shelf is an invitation to treat, not an offer. The customer makes the offer when they bring the goods to the cashier.