Case Brief Wiki


Thornton parked his car in the Shoe Lane parking lot while he was at a musical performance. He received a ticket from an automatic machine. On the ticket was printed the time of issue, and a statement that the ticket is issued subject to the conditions posted in the parking lot. These conditions were posted in the office where you had to pay upon departure, and on the wall opposite the ticket machine, however the poster was not very prominent. The conditions included exempting Shoe Lane from any liability for injury caused to the customer while their car was in the parking building. Thornton was seriously injured when placing goods in his trunk before leaving by another car. At trial the judge found that Thornton was 50% responsible for the act, but awarded him 50% damages from Shoe Lane, which they appealed.


  1. Is the exempting condition, posted in the garage, part of the contract?
  2. Does the fact that the ticket was dispensed automatically matter?




Lord Denning states that this case differs from the preceding cases because the ticket is issued automatically and not from a clerk. Therefore, there is no chance to look at the conditions, reject them, and get your money back. Effectively the offer is made by Shoe Lane in having the machine posted with the prices, and this offer is accepted when the driver places money in the machine. This contract cannot be subject to conditions that are presented after this time. The writing on the ticket stating that it was subject to the conditions was not visible until after the contract had been formed, therefore the contract is not truly subject to the conditions. The ticket is simply a receipt showing that the contract had been formed. Further, Shoe Lane did not do what was reasonably sufficient to give notice of the conditions to Thornton – a driver would have to walk around the parking lot to discover them, which is more than can be asked of a sensible patron.

Megaw agrees, but focuses exclusively on the fact that the defendant did not give reasonable notice rather than the formation of the contract prior to the conditions being delivered. Willmer states that in cases involving an automatic ticket machine there is something distinctly irrevocable about the offer made by the company owning the parking lot.


In cases with automatic ticket dispensers, the d when the plaintiff inserts money into the machine and receives the ticket; conditions that are not seen until after this time are not binding as the contract has already been agreed upon without the conditions.