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Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 House of Lords

Mrs Donoghue went to a cafe with a friend. The friend brought her a bottle of ginger beer and an ice cream. The ginger beer came in an opaque bottle so that the contents could not be seen. Mrs Donoghue poured half the contents of the bottle over her ice cream and also drank some from the bottle. After eating part of the ice cream, she then poured the remaining contents of the bottle over the ice cream and a decomposed snail emerged from the bottle. Mrs Donoghue suffered personal injury as a result. She commenced a claim against the manufacturer of the ginger beer.


Her claim was successful. This case established the modern law of negligence and established the neighbour test.

Lord Atkin:
"The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question " Who is my neighbour ?" receives a restricted reply. 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 in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question."
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