Case Briefs

Donoghue v Stevenson

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On the 26 August, 1928 Donoghue and a friend were at a café in Glasgow. Donoghue's companion ordered and paid for a bottle of Stevenson's ttle. Donoghue drank some of the contents and her friend lifted the bottle to pour the remainder of the ginger beer into the tumbler. The remains of a snail in a state of decomposition dropped out of the bottle into the tumbler. Donoghue later complained of stomach pain and her doctor diagnosed her as having gastroenteritis and being in a state of severe shock. Donoghue sued Stevenson, the manufacturer of the drink, for negligence. She was unsuccessful at trial and appealed the decision to the House of lords.



Appeal allowed. The case established the modern law of negligence and established the neighbour test.


My innards had been roiling since we'd left Kabul just after two in the morning. Baba never said so, but I knew he saw my car sickness as yet another of my array of weakness--I saw it on his embarrassed face the couple of times my stomach had clenched so badly I had moaned. When the burly guy with the beads--the praying woman's husband--asked if I was going to get sick, I said I might. Baba looked away. The man lifted his corner of the tarpaulin cover and rapped on the driver's window, asked him to stop. But the driver, Karim, a scrawny dark-skinned man with hawk-boned features and a pencil-thin mustache, shook his head. "We are too close to Kabul," he shot back. "Tell him to have a strong stomach." Baba grumbled something under his breath. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but suddeny I was salivating, the back of my throat tasting bile. I turned around, lifted the tarpaulin, and threw up over the side of the moving truck. Behind me, Baba was apologizing to the other passengers. As if car sickness was a crime. As if you weren't supposed to get sick when you were eighteen. I threw up two more times before Karim agreed to stop, mostly so I wouldn't stink up his vehicle, the instrument of his livelihood. Karim was a people smuggler--it was a pretty lucrative business then, driving people out of Shorawi-occupied Kabul to the relative safety of Pakistan. He was taking us to Jalalabad, about 170 kilometers southeast of Kabul, where his brother, Toor, who had a bigger truck with a second convoy of refugees, was waiting to drive us across the Khyber Pass and into Peshawar.

W were a few kilometers west of Mahipar Falls when Karim pulled to the side of the road. Mahipar--which means "Flying Fish"--was a high summit with a precipitous drop overlooking the hydro plant the Germans had built for Afghanistan back in 1967. Baba and I had driven over the summit countless times on our way to Jalalabad, the city of cypress trees and sugarcane fields where Afghans vacationed in the winter.


  • You must take reasonable care when proceeding with actions or omissions that you can reasonably foresee harming your neighbour.
  • Neighbours are persons who are reasonably foreseeable as being affected by your actions or omissions.
  • A duty of care is not owed to the world at large; it is owed to your neighbours.


In light of the above discussion, following the principles developed, consumers are now protected from defective products of negligent manufacturers through the enactment of various laws.

The parties injured by defective products can now sue in the line of duty of care, action need  not be based on contractual relationship.

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