Williams v Carwardine – Case Summary

Williams v Carwardine

High Court

Citations: (1833) 4 Barnewall and Adolphus 621; 110 ER 590.


The defendant put up an advert offering a reward for anyone who gave information leading to the identification of the person who murdered the defendant’s brother.

The claimant knew who did it, but when she saw the advert she did not come forwards. She was later badly beaten by the murderer. Believing that she was going to die and seeking to ease her conscience, the claimant provided the information to the defendant. This information helped the police convict the man of murder.

The claimant later claimed the reward. However, the defendant refused to pay. He argued that the claimant was not motivated by the offer when she gave the information, but rather had other motives. This, he claimed, meant that there was no contract.

  1. Do the claimant’s motives matter to whether they have accepted an offer?

The court held in favour of the claimant. The claimant’s motives were not relevant to whether she had accepted the offer in the advert.

This Case is Authority For…

The claimant’s reason for accepting an offer makes no difference to whether their acceptance is valid (absent a defence such as duress).