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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Case Law - Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932)

Case: Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932)
Precedent: Duty of Care (Neighbour Principle)

A friend of the claimant purchased a bottle of ginger beer. The claimant drank some of the beer in which was found the remains of a decomposed snail. She was subsequently ill and sued the manufacturer. She was unable to sue the manufacturer for breach of contract because the only contract that existed was with the claimant’s friend who had bought the ginger beer and the manufacturer.

The House of Lords held that the defendant being the manufacturer of the ginger beer owed a duty of care to the claimant as the consumer of the beer to take reasonable care to ensure that the bottle did not contain anything that might cause harm.

In this case the judge said that reasonable care must be taken to avoid acts or omissions which, with reasonable foresight, you would know would be likely to injure your neighbour. This is known as the “Neighbour Principle”. Therefore the test whether someone is a “neighbour”, in the legal sense, can be established if it can be reasonably foreseen that the act or omission may cause harm to them.

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