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Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562

Torts - Negligence - Duty of Care

Facts; Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 is a landmark case in tort law. The case involved Mrs Donoghue, who purchased a bottle of ginger beer from a café in Paisley, Scotland. The bottle was opaque, and Mrs Donoghue could not see its contents. She drank the ginger beer and later noticed a decomposed snail floating in the liquid. Mrs Donoghue fell gravely ill, contracting gastroenteritis. She claimed that discovering the decomposed snail in her ginger beer made her ill, and she sued the manufacturer, Mr Stevenson, for damages. The main issue in the case was whether Mr Stevenson owed a duty of care to Mrs Donoghue. At the time, there was no clear legal precedent on the duty of care owed by manufacturers to consumers.

Law; The court was asked to determine whether a manufacturer owed a duty of care to the ultimate consumer of its products.

Holding; The House of Lords ultimately found in favour of Mrs Donoghue, holding that Mr Stevenson did owe a duty of care to her. The court established the "neighbour principle", which holds that a person owes a duty of care to those closely and directly affected by their actions. The court also established the principle of negligence, which holds that a person who breaches their duty of care and causes harm to another person can be held liable for damages.

The decision in Donoghue v Stevenson was significant because it established the legal framework for modern negligence law. The case also expanded the scope of tort law to cover harm caused by defective products. It established the principle of strict liability, which holds manufacturers strictly liable for defective products resulting in negligence. The case of Donoghue v Stevenson is a landmark case in tort law, and its principles continue to be influential in modern legal practice.

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