Blackpool and Fylde Aero Club v Blackpool Borough Council

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Blackpool and Fylde Aero Club v Blackpool BC [1990] 3 All ER 25

Contract law – Offer and acceptance – Formation of contract

Facts

The defendants were a local authority that managed the local airport as its owners. They had granted the plaintiffs, who were a flight club, a concession to operate casual flights out of the airport. The concession came up for renewal and the tender invitation was released to the plaintiff and six other companies. The tender had a clause stating that tenders would not be considered if they missed the time and date deadline stipulated. The town’s clerk failed to empty the letterbox on time and as such, the plaintiff’s tender missed the deadline and the defendant accepted a lower proposal. The plaintiffs brought an action for damages against the defendant for negligence and for breaching their contract. At an initial hearing, the judge held that the request for tenders by the defendant required them to consider all the tenders received and on this basis, they were liable to the plaintiff. The defendants appealed this decision.

Issue

The issue for the court was whether the invitation to submit a bid for tender could be considered to establish the intent to create a contract between the parties. It is important to note that contracts were not to be readily implied by the courts which made this deliberation particularly important.

Held

The court dismissed the defendant’s appeal. They found that the invitation to submit a tender was usually no more than an offer to receive bids but in this circumstance, examining the behaviour of the parties created clear intention to create a contract and therefore the failure to consider the plaintiff’s application made them liable.

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