O'Brien v MGN Ltd

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O’Brien v MGN Ltd
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Court Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Full case name Lee Headley O'Brien v MGN Limited
Decided August 1, 2001 (2001-08-01)
Citation(s) [2001] EWCA Civ 1279
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Potter LJ, Hale LJ, Anthony Evens
Reasonable notice, incorporation

O’Brien v MGN Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1279 is an English contract law case, concerning incorporation of terms through reasonable notice.


The defendant put scratchcards with its newspapers-- Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People. If the card came up with money, players called a premium rate number to see if the amount matched a mystery bonus cash amount. Mr O’Brien on 3 July 1995 got two sums of £50,000. 1471 other people did as well, because MGN had distributed too many by mistake. MGN had only intended to have one prize of £50,000. MGN held a draw among the 1472. MGN pointed to "Rule 5", which said there would be a draw where more prizes were claimed than available. Rule 5, however, although published in some newspapers, was not to be found in the 3 July 1995 edition. This only said ‘Normal Mirror Group rules apply.’ Mr O’Brien had seen that. The question was whether Rule 5 was incorporated into the scratchcard agreement.


Hale LJ held that Rule 5 was incorporated. She noted that Rule 5 was no big burden on the claimant like in Interfoto nor excluding liability for injury like Thornton, but simply deprived a windfall.[1] She also noted that in the test for incorporation, the words ‘onerous or unusual’ are not ‘terms of art’.[2] Potter LJ concurred with Hale LJ.

Sir Anthony Evans was doubtful that judge’s reasons were right and thought the rule was onerous enough to require more notice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [2001] EWCA Civ 1279, [21]
  2. ^ [2001] EWCA Civ 1279, [23]