Donoghue v Stevenson

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Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 532Let me Google that for you is a case, concerning snails and ginger-beer, which is so beloved of law students that the 1932 volume of the Appeals Cases falls open at page 532[1]. Along with the leaking resevoir of Rylands v Fletcher it is one of the founding cases of the law of negligence.

Mrs Donoghue drinking a bottle of ginger beer in a café in Paisley, Renfrewshire. A dead snail was in the bottle. She fell ill, and she sued the ginger beer manufacturer, Mr Stevenson. The House of Lords held that Mr. Stevenson owed Mrs. Donoghue duty of care which he breached, because it was reasonably foreseeable that failure to ensure the product’s safety would harm consumers, whom Lord Atkin felt were sufficiently proximate to count as “neighbours”.

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  1. Spod fact: I own a copy of the 1932 Appeals Cases, but evidently it has not seen active service in any library populated by live students, apparently has never been read, and so it doesn’t fall open at page 532. Yet. It was quite an expensive experiment to get the wrong answer.