Talk:Donoghue v Stevenson

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source of Atkin's biblical precedent[edit]

This had been quoted as the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10). I changed it to James 2:8 because I think, as a lawyer, Lord Atkin would more likely have had this verse in mind than the parable when applying the sciptures as a source of, or at least an inspiration for, civil law. I've put the original link (on reflection, I think it was meant to be what it is now). To be honest, I don't think that Atkin was applying the parable, but rather he was distinguishing it, since the answer that orthodox theology gives to the question "who is my neighbour" is "whoever you come across", whereas Atkin was saying it's someone affected by my act - the Samaritan in the parable had done nothing to cause the young man's injuries, but was passing by, and in current UK law had no duty of care to the young man lying in the gutter. So I'm changing the article to say "see James 2:8" and "c.f. the parable."Oliver Low (talk) 02:12, 18 June 2010 (UTC)


Is the emblem for the House of Lords right in this context?Yarub 02:59, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, in this context it is correct usage. mholland 20:15, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

it's weird![edit]

we were told 2 find info 4 our law class and it's about a snail! what is going on to justice!

The most interesting thing about the decomposed snail is that it seems that it didn't exist. If you look at the rather obscure ALDER v DICKSON [1954] 1 W.L.R. 1482, Jenkins L.J. says

[JENKINS L.J. If we refuse leave to appeal to the House of Lords for the reasons given, and the defendants went to the House of Lords and asked for leave, they might grant it and make conditions under which there would be no hearing before them until after the trial of the action. The House of Lords heard the preliminary issue in Donoghue v. Stevenson and when the trial was finally heard there was no snail in the bottle at all.]

That's really quite amusing. Donoghue v Stevenson was settled out of court for the price of ₤200 following the House of Lords decision. So it never proceeded to trial. I'd have thought a judge would be willing to check that before he comments on a well-known case? But I guess not! Cheers, Jenkins LJ! --Matthew Proctor 01:58, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Caparo vs. Dickman[edit]

Can someone please lay down, in the article, the changes made in the Caparo vs. Dickman case (i.e. 3 part test). Also, i think an article needs to be made of the Caparo vs Dickman case. Wright123 00:24, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Like Caparo v Dickman? -- ALoan (Talk) 22:04, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
Oh, didnt see that. Thanks. Wright123 13:55, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
The article was already there, but your comment prompted me to created a couple of redirects so it was easier to find. Thanks for the idea. -- ALoan (Talk) 21:59, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
much easier to find now, thanks. Wright123 22:49, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Someone please read through this page and the one proposed to merge with it so that a concensus page can be made.

article's neutrality and nonconform to wikipedia standards[edit]

wow. this is probably the worst written wikipedia article i've ever read. what's going on with the last paragraph? reads like someone's badly written editorial with what seem to be totally made up facts.

suggest that someone (who can actually write) rewrites this. 01:45, 12 February 2006 (UTC) ib

Yes, it's awful. We recently merged a very flowery article into this one, and the flowery one is complete crap. For the moment I'll do some butchery, but it does need a thorough going over. Markyour words 12:00, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
Wouldn't it make sense to just revert to the old version and leave the crappy version to die? Ambi 12:21, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
Sorry - I did the "rough" merge but haven't come back to finesse and de-POV the "flowery" article into the original one yet. There was some additional helpful text in the other article, which is why I wanted to save the text. If anyone has time to sort it out, be my guest. If not, I'll try to fix it some time next week. -- ALoan (Talk) 21:10, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

This article is just plain wrong[edit]

This article is just plain wrong. Donoghue is merely an extension of the doctrine articulated by Benjamin Cardozo in MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co., which was the first case to create a general duty of care extending to both purchasers and downstream buyers. Cardozo also advocated a general duty of care in his personal writings. MacPherson is taught as the starting point of modern negligence in the standard American torts course. An excellent overview of Anglo-American negligence law as it existed right after Donoghue is in Kalash v. Los Angeles Ladder Company (1934) [1].

You miss the point that Donoghue was the modern foundation of negligence law in common law systems. You cannot compare the English common law system to the system in America. PageantUpdater 20:24, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, the last time I checked, the United States is generally considered by most legal scholars to be a common law system (I'll concede that Puerto Rico and Louisiana are different). Although the United States has civil law elements like statutory codification, stare decisis is still paramount in 49 out of 50 states and in federal law. Of course, if you're trying to say that Donoghue is the foundation of negligence law in common law systems outside of the United States (in the sense that it is the case most commonly cited and studied in those systems as the origin of the general duty of care), then I suppose your assertion makes sense. But it is still inherently misleading to omit any mention of the connection between this case and MacPherson (and MacPherson is mentioned and cited by Lords Atkin, Macmillan, and Buckmaster). When I have the time, I will go research the relationship between these two cases and revise this article accordingly. --Coolcaesar 01:13, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

The entry is a bit unclear; was the N.Y. decision actually referred to in the text of the House of Lords decision? This would seem a tad peculiar. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not going to explain this too well (brain failing me) but because the US has a constitution their law is different from British common law, which has evolved over the centuries (not to say that US law doesn't evolve). Coming from New Zealand, which is part of the British system due to our political history, I know for sure that we are told to separate US and British cases - US cases may be of interest but British cases are the pursuasive ones. You can't compare the two. They are separate. PageantUpdater 02:23, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Trying to explain this better... as an example, in New Zealand, the doctrine of stare decisis means that each court has to apply/distinguish the decisions of courts higher than them. Until recently, this also applied to Privy Council decisions (until we got our Supreme Court in 2003). When looking at cases we must look primarily to New Zealand cases, then to UK cases which are not binding (because they are not within the NZ jurisdiction) but are merely persuasive. US cases are not considered to any major degree (although they may be used to make a point, where no other cases are available). The two are, as I explained above, separate. I am only a second-year law student so am not an authority by any means (!) but it must be said that this is rather fresh in my head :) PageantUpdater 04:51, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Also in the US each state has its own "common law". Not very common. Also in Australia at least UK cases hold far, far more weight than US cases. Xtra 02:35, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Okay, Ambi just deleted a statement that I inserted to explain Donoghue's connection to MacPherson. I cited to a 2002 article by Justice Allen Linden of the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, which was published in the UCLA Law Review while Linden was serving as an adjunct professor at nearby Pepperdine University. Linden definitely knows what he is talking about; he participated with Lord Denning in the making of a documentary called the Paisley Snail (see, where Linden appears in one of the screen captures). --Coolcaesar 23:52, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Firstly, one must realise there are two types of precedent used in UK law (under stare decisis); Binding Precedent and Persuasive. An element of persuasive is international law, which one could conclude includes US law, however- this usually applies to Commonwealth countries. Also, this is merely persuasive and doesn't legally hold water, if the Judge wants to use either different case precedent, or set new precedent. Also, this case makes no appearance (as i see) in the ratio decidendi, or even made as obiter, in the case and so obviously had no part to play. Jonomacdrones 16:38, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I'd simply like to know how it can be considered correct that Donoghue "founded the modern tort of negligence... across the world in common law jurisdictions" if the modern tort of negligence had already been "founded" by MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co. sixteen years earlier in New York state (a common law jurisdiction)? I suppose it's possible that Donoghue is the more important precedent for Commonwealth countries, but the fact remains that the U.S. is a common law jurisdiction, and that it bases "the modern tort of negligence" on MacPherson, not the later Donoghue. I'd suggest, therefore, that the current second sentence of the article needs to be qualified, at the least. Groundsquirrel13 (talk) 00:15, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Ground, you have a point. This case is a continuation of the negligence doctrine of Buick, yet carried to farther. Donoghue took products liability from being a contract to a tort. Bearian (talk) 01:55, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree. Reading Buick, it seems like a product liability case, whereas Donoghue explicitly establishes a principle that anyone can owe a duty of care to anyone else provided certain general criteria are met - not just when manufacturing items for use by third parties. It is built on the kind of principles set out in Buick, but its scope is all-encompassing. Unless I'm reading Buick wrong... Westmorlandia (talk) 13:57, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Surprisingly, not every legal concept has its origins in the USA. Whilst Donoghue v Stevenson was not the 'first case to create a general duty of care extending to both purchasers and downstream buyers', neither was Buick. And Cordozo was certainly not the first person to advocate a generalised formula for the existence of a duty of care - the credit for this must surely go to Brett/Escher, as seen in Heaven v Pender (1883) and Le Leivre v Gould [1893]. As for manufacturer's liability is concerned, George v Skivington (1869) is an example of such a case and that predates Buick by almost half a century. I agree that Donoghue v Stevenson is credited with too many things, but don't make the same mistake with Buick.

Neighbour v Neighbourhood?[edit]

Which is the most accepted version? In everything I've read it's been described as "neighbourhood" and that's the terminology my lecturer uses. PageantUpdater 01:25, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

My lecturers always spoke of the "neighbour" principle, and that is how it seems to be referred to generally in the UK. Lord Atkin actually spoke about loving your "neighbour" not your "neighbourhood". But I suppose it is another British/US oddity - NPOV-ly, we ought to mention both usages, I guess. -- ALoan (Talk) 10:28, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
I've only ever heard of it as Atkin's Neighbour Principle, and it being about a person one must ought to have in contemplation etc etc Jonomacdrones 16:39, 17 November 2006 (UTC)


This page is looking pretty good, although further academic references would also be helpful. What else can we add? Impact on later cases? Implications in other jurisdicions?

Can we find some images? There are some nice photos of Paisley and the bottle in the "Mrs. Donoghue's Journey" article - I wonder what their copyright status is... -- ALoan (Talk) 14:00, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

It's still awfully short for a FAC. Implications are the obvious gaping hole; the only hint of subsequent developments is the reference to Caparo in the lead (which, while I'm on it, doesn't really summarise the article at all). What was the contemporary reaction to the judgment? If, as someone claimed above, the American courts had already come up with much the same thing, why is Stevenson the famous case? There are some weasel words- "it has been speculated", etc. The infobox says that no cases were cited- can that really be true? The infobox, by the way, seems to be broken- there should be a or something to stop Category:English navigational boxes from showing up. HenryFlower 15:55, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Still needs a copyedit for encyclopedic tone. "Leechman was already an expert on the dangers of drinking ginger beer.", "It would not have been very surprising if Walter Leechman and May Donoghue had given up after this judgment." Also contains some trivia - why do we care how the plaintiff found Leechman? It needs to focus less on the case as a quirky story and more on it as a massive landmark ruling. More references are badly needed too. Ambi 01:26, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
We care because there is a hint that Donoghue may have fabricated her snail, based on the reports of Leechman's earlier "mouse" case! Jezza (talk) 22:35, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Article makes claims not based on history[edit]

This article is not entirely accurate. The author of this article seems to imply that the four elements of negligence were new to this case. I quote an earlier case: Baron Alderson of the House of Lords wrote in Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks (1856): "Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do." Brett M. R. in Heaven v. Pender (1883) mentions a "duty" to "exercise due care towards his neighbours". The famous Sir Frederick Pollock writes in 1887, "He must not only show that he suffered harm in such a manner that it might be caused by the defendant's negligence; he must show that it was so caused, and to do this he must prove facts inconsistent with due diligence on the part of the defendant." So at common law at the end of the 19th century we have a 1) duty to exercise reasonable care, 2) omission of due care 3) defendant's negligence so caused the suffered harm 4) the defendant suffered harm. The decision in Donoghue seems to focus on the lack of contract between the defendant and plaintiff, but there are many other negligence cases of the 19th century which do not have contracts between the parties e.g. Rylands v Fletcher (1868). I have read the articles this case cites, and the author of the wiki article has missed some important distinctions. I believe it would be more accurate to state that this case is "an important case studied by law students". This article should not be relied upon for scholarly purposes. Legis Nuntius 01:05, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

No Wikipedia article should be relied on for scholarly purposes! If you're a scholar, you need to be going deeper than this. But Donoghue is much more important than you imply. Although negligence was a long-established principle, the point about Donoghue was its impact regarding who owed a duty of care to whom (as without a duty of care, a person can be as negligent as they like without liability). Previously a duty of care had been confined to certain specific scenarios, but following Donoghue a general set of principles were established that could be applied to any circumstance. Which does not mean that everyone owes everyone else a duty of care, but that the principle is a generalised one. Westmorlandia (talk) 14:01, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

The 'new' element in Donoghue -v- Stevenson[edit]

The article accurately quotes Lord Atkin, but fails to nail either the innovation or the precise contribution the decision has made to the development of the law in any specific jurisdiction. The cases cited by other contributors show the elements of actionable 'breach of duty of care' that were already in place. The new aspect of Donoghue v Stevenson was the 'closely and directly affected' qualification to decide who is a 'neighbour'. Although D v S was a majority rather than unanimous decision, and although the 'neighbour' test was expressly formulated only by one of the five Law Lords, it has been widely used in England and Wales and in related jurisdictions since, so it is strange to find it listed as a specifically Scottish topic. - Moot point - As Common Law countries increasingly claim jurisdiction over the actions of their citizens abroad, does Lord Atkin's neighbour (not neighbourhood) principle suggest a route for overseas claimants to access the courts of Common Law countries as 'neighbours' of those countries' nationals and corporations?~~User:kateheusser~~ 2nd April 2007

Tort vs. delict[edit]

The article seems to largely use the terminology of "tort", which is a bit confusing as surely it was originally being heard as a "delict" case, and then "mapped back" onto English tort law. Shouldn't at least the legal analysis section use that terminology, to make that clearer? IANAL, and I have no idea what the practical distinction between tort and delict is, as opposed to their theoretically separate origins, but I assume there's at least some actual difference. Alai 02:31, 13 April 2007 (UTC)


M'Alister famously sued as a pauper, as did John Joseph Stockdale in Stockdale v. Hansard. Unfortunately, pauper redirects to povery. It should really redirect to legal aid but there is no historical treatment in that article of suing as a pauper before modern times. Would be nice if snybody who knew anything could add to that article, otherwise do some research.Cutler (talk) 09:26, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Fame of the case[edit]

A recent editor, Kingturtle, removed the statement that the case was "one of the most famous cases in legal history", saying that the claim is dubious. I disagree, but perhaps because I am British , and this is probably the most famous case in British legal history. I would be interested in what other people think of the fame of the case. Whatever the view is, it should still state that it is one of the most famous cases in British legal history, because that is an important thing for a general reader to understand. Westmorlandia (talk) 10:38, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree, Westmorlandia. I think Donoghue can accurately be called "one of the most famous cases in British legal history" - from an American perspective, I can't necessarily think of any that are more famous (maybe Entick v. Carrington or Dr. Bonham's Case due to their constitutional importance here?) A statement of this type should definitely be included in the article, since it says something very important about the case. Groundsquirrel13 (talk) 20:46, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
100 Cases That Every Scots Law Student Needs To Know (Various, W.Green, 2001) even entitles its report of the case The Most Famous Case Of All (ISBN 978-0-414-01462-6, pp59-61).

Consequences to Scots Law[edit]

Under the consequences section, the article says "... effect of this case was not only to provide individuals in England and Wales with a remedy against suppliers of consumer products ...". Should this not say the UK as the House of Lords was primarily making a decision on Scots Law, which the rest of the UK was to follow?--ML5 (talk) 11:52, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree, I think it should say "UK". (What actually happened, if one reads the case, is that the Lords accepted the proposition that the Scottish law of delict and the English law of negligence were identical. Having accepted the proposition, they then proceeded to decide the case on the basis of the English case law. That doesn't affect your point, though.) Westmorlandia (talk) 10:37, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Compare and contrast[edit]

In the US of A at about this time beer(but not wine?) would have been classed as a kind of injurious poison. (talk) 01:09, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Except for the fact that it's irrelevant - as ginger beer is not actually "beer", an alcoholic beverage, but a carbonated soft drink. (talk) 22:02, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Cost awarded out of court[edit]

The article states "and his executors settled out of court, for £200, well short of the original claim of £500 plus legal costs."

At the time a house where I live (in Poole,Dorset) would have cost about £150

The cost today (2012) would be nearer £250,000
-- (talk) 01:15, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

The text is inaccurate.[edit]

In the case of Donoghue V Stevenson the bottle was bought for the claimant by a friend. She didnt buy it herself. Thats why the case is so important. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:23, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

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