Legal Word of the Day: “Puffery”

Carbolic Smoke Ball ad

Carbolic Smoke Ball ad

“Puffery” – Statements and claims that express subjective opinions, which no “reasonable person” would take literally. Puffery is language or suggestions that “puff up” the image of what is being described.

Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. [1893] 1 Q.B. 256, 262, per Lindley L.J. is the best-known instance of its use as a legal term.

In a modern Canadian context, the term comes up in Corfax Benefit Systems Ltd., v. Fiducie Desjardins Inc., 1997 CanLII 12195 (ONSC):

“It is more than puffery that is part of the dance of any commercial negotiation. As noted by the Manitoba Court of Appeal in Andronyk v. Williams, supra, at pp. 57-58:

“It is only representations of fact that can give rise either to a right of rescision in equity or a right of damages in deceit, or it may be, in actionable negligence. The law is clear… that no action will lie for misrepresentation unless it is “a statement of existing fact.”

It has been held that opinion or forecasting are not matters of fact… Indeed, many statements of opinion as to quality will be treated by the Courts as what some call mere puffery.

Researched by: Humber student Chris Yu, who appreciates this quirky little word.

One comment

  1. Charlene Bryant · ·

    Please add me to your email list for word of the day.
    Thank you,
    Charlene

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