The Student Room Group

fisher v bell

who is responding in this case? and who brought the original action?
Reply 1
As far as I remember, it was a police officer who instigated the case. Passing by the shop where the knife was displayed in the window, the argument was that the item was being offered for sale. Basic law of contract states that this would be an invitation to treat, rather than an offer for sale. Thus, the court decided in favour of the shop owner, who had contended exactly that point. You need to look at s1 Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959, which provides that 'Any person who manufactures, sells or hires or offers for sale or hire ...' a flick-knife (which it was established that what had been in the window actually was) is guilty of an offence, and liable to summary conviction. However, because - according to the statute at that time, pre-amendment) - the defendant's display of the knife did not constitute an offer for sale, he could not be guilty of an offence. As well as issues of contract law, the court raised the doctrine of statutory interpretation; the relevant law had to be construed according to its literal meaning. While it was likely that an ordinary person might consider the knife as being for sale, according to a strict interpretation of the law, it wasn't. Hope this helps!

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