Donoghue v Stevenson [1932]: Case Analysis

Donoghue v Stevenson: Case Summary

Mrs Donoghue went to a cafe with a friend who bought her ice cream and a bottle of ginger beer. The ginger beer contained a decomposed snail. Mrs Donoghue suffered from personal injury due to this and proceeded to claim against the manufacturer which was successful and resulted in the establishment of the modern law of negligence and the neighbour test.

Donoghue v Stevenson: Download the Judgment

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Why is Donoghue v Stevenson important?

Donoghue v Stevenson is the landmark case in tort law. The wider importance of the case is that it established the general principle of the duty of care concept in law. The test was formulated by Lord Atkin and it is generally referred to as the “neighbour test” or “neighbour principle”.

“You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them “

Lord Atkin, Donoghue v Stevenson [1932]

Not only did this case establish the liability of manufacturers to consumers with whom they did not have a direct contractual relationship, but also the now established principle that forms the basis of negligence.

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