Civil law, case I ACa 295/10

July 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki is a very popular Polish auction website. Michał Z. is one of many of its users. He was acting on behalf of his father’s company when he placed an auction. When setting the option “buy now”, he allegedly by mistake underpriced the item he was trying to sell. The item was valued for 74.000 PLN but Michał Z. set the “buy now” price for 7.400 PLN. Alicja W. decided to buy this item and she choose “buy now” option. She received an e-mail confirming her purchase from

Michał Z. tried to void the contract, arguing that he has made a mistake when setting a price for this auction. When Alicja Z. came for the auctioned item, its owners have refused to release it. They proposed purchase of another one – in a promotional price of 50.000 PLN. Alicja Z. did not agree to a subsequent proposals, including 20.000 PLN compensation and she sued.

The District Court in Radom dismissed her claim. The Court ruled that the parties came to the conclusion of the contract of sale, but Michał Z. has successfully evaded of legal consequences of his offer, because it was made by error of fact. It was clear for the Court that the value of the item was given incorrectly, and it did not correspond to real costs of such products. The Court ruled that Alicja W. was certainly aware of this price disparity. She could have acquired such knowledge even from the website of the seller because the address was included in the offer. Alicja Z. appealed.

The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 295/10 held that if the declaration of will has been made to another person, the evasion of legal consequences it permissible only if the error was caused by that person, even if such person was not guilty, or if such person was aware of the error (for example such knowledge was acquired during the negotiations) or the error could easily be noted by such person. According to the Court, none of these conditions has occurred in this case. The Court ruled that it cannot be assumed that someone must be aware of the fact that the price is wrong, and that it was possible for such person to find out the actual price.

The Appellate Court ruled that the District Court overlooked the fact that the auction was placed on Allegro website, which has its own rules (TOS) of trading/auctioning. The item was only available at the auction with the “buy now” option, in which the seller puts the goods at a fixed, predetermined price. The contract between the seller and the buyer takes upon confirmation of the “buy now” option, as the buyer is automatically notified. The terms of such auction cannot be changed in relation to the buyer who has made an offer, before such change was made. The seller, who choose this type of auction, is bound by the rules and cannot change the conditions of the transaction after a bid by the buyer. The Appellate Court sent this case back for reconsideration.