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April 7, 2012

Business Law - Cases

A was waiting for a train at the Railway Platform. B , who passed by, came back and sat in front of A, took out a brush and shoe polish from a small box he carried and started polishing A’s Shoes, without being asked for. A did not make any attempt to stop B from polishing the shoes. Later, A refused to pay stating that he did not ask for it. He did not made any attempt to stop B from doing the work, since he thought that the service was free.

Advise B.

A’s contentions are given in the question. Further, A may argue that B has not made an offer and there was no acceptance from A and hence there is no valid contract.

B is in the business of Shoe Polishing and he earns his livelihood by doing this service in the Railway Plat form. Such type of service providers are common sight at the Railway platforms, and it is common knowledge that they are not providing free service. A could have just withdrawn his feet/ shoes in case he did not want to pay. By sitting without disturbing the work throughout, he has either accepted the implied offer or accepted a non gratuitous act.

Section 70 of the Indian contract Act 1881 provides the obligation of person enjoying benefit of non-gratuitous act:

“Where a person lawfully does anything for another person, or delivers anything to him, not intending to do so gratuitously, and such another person enjoys the benefit thereof, the letter is bound to make compensation to the former in respect of, or to restore, the thing so done or delivered.”

As per the above section, four conditions are to be satisfied to make one liable:

1. A person should lawfully do something for another.

2. He must not intend to act gratuitously

3. The other party must enjoy the benefit.

4. The beneficiary has the choice to reject the services.

5. The services should have been rendered without request.

In the given case:

1. B does the work of polishing the shoes, which is lawful.

2. His intention was to get some money out of the job, and he did not act gratuitously.

3. A got his shoe polished, and thereby enjoyed the benefit of B’s act.

4. A had the opportunity to reject the service.

5. B has rendered the service without request.

From the above, it is clear that all the conditions of section 70 are met.

A case where the facts are similar to the given case is decided by the High court of Delhi during 2006. The case is as follows:

Neha Bhasin v Anand Raj anand - (2006) 132 DLT 196:

Songs of N were recorded by the defendants. There was no contract between them. The defendants commercially marketed CDs of her song recordings.Though the facts did not directly point to the fact of a non gratuitous act on the part of N, the court came to the conclusion that it was a non gratuitous act and that the defendants enjoyed the benefit. The court held that the a quasi contract arose and the under section 70 and the defendants are liable to pay.

Hence A is bound to make compensation to B in respect of the work of polishing his shoes.


As per the Indian contract Act 1881:

“When a person to whom the proposal is made, signifies his assent thereto, the proposal is said to be accepted. A proposal, when accepted, becomes a Promise” - S. 2(b)

“Every promise and every set of promises, forming the consideration for each other, is an Agreement.” - S.2(e)

“An agreement enforceable by law is a Contract” - S.2(h)

“The communication of proposals, the acceptance of proposals, and the revocation of proposals and acceptances, respectively, are deemed to be made by any act or omission of the party proposing, accepting or revoking, by which he intends to communicate such proposal, acceptance or revocation, or which has the effect of communicating it.” - S.3

From section 3 of Indian contract act 1881 as quoted above, it follows that the communication is deemed to be made

¾ By act or omission of the parties

i. By which he intends to communicate or

ii. Which has the effect of communicating it.

In the given case, by his action of taking the shoe and starting the act of polishing B has communicated the proposal.

Omission of A to prevent B is the communication of acceptance of the proposal.

Even if A had no intention of communicating the acceptance, his omission had the effect of communicating the acceptance.

Though no consideration is fixed beforehand, since A allowed B to continue polishing the shoes, and has not stopped him from doing so, it is to be presumed that the B expected a reasonable consideration and A has agreed to the same.

Acceptance of proposal by conduct is well established in a famous English case Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893] 1 QB 256, where the plaintiff, by buying the product from a shop was deemed to have accepted an offer for reward , published as an advertisement in a News Paper. Even though the parties had not even met or communicated, the conduct of bothe the parties were deemed to have completed a valid contract..

Hence it is proved that a valid contract is established between A and B and that A is bound to pay B for the work undertaken by him.

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