Donoghue v Stevenson 1932, House of Lords, England
FACTS: Donoghue consumed a drink manufactured by Stevenson that was contaminated by a dead snail. Donoghue suffered illness and loss as a result.
ISSUE IN DISPUTE: Whether Stevenson was liable to compensate Donoghue for her illness and loss.
JUDGMENT: Stevenson owed Donoghue a duty to take care that his ginger beer was not contaminated. A reasonable person in his position would have ensured the bottle was clean before filling it. Stevenson owed Donoghue damages for the harm his defective product caused her.
Stevenson owed Donoghue a duty to take care that he did not supply her with contaminated ginger beer.
The ratio decidendi in Donoghue v Stevenson formed a precedent that has been followed and developed in many other cases since 1932. Lawyers are able to research these cases by using a case citator, which records every judgment that refers to a precedent.
Go to LawCite, the case citation service of the Australasian Legal Information Index at http://www.austlii.edu.au/lawcite/. Research another case that has followed the precedent in Donoghue v Stevenson. Make a case note summarising the court’s finding.
Requires personal student research.
Students are likely to suggest that the outcome was fair. Students should refer to their definition of fairness in their response (such as fairness is about individuals being treated with impartiality, and without favouritism). Students might point out that both parties had the opportunity to present their side of the dispute, making use of consistent procedures and an impartial, unbiased judge. Students might also suggest that it is only fair for a manufacturer to take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which they can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure their customers.