September 30, 2022

Case comment: Donoghue v. Stevenson,[1932] AC 562

Who had an idea that this judgment given by Lord Atkin would one day be considered under the category of landmark cases to study the essentials of Negligence. Donoghue v. Stevenson [i] ((1932) A.C. 562.) Popularly known as the Ginger Beer case is the basic case to study one of the main essential of Negligence which is Duty of care to the Plaintiff.

Analysis

According to the appellant on the evening of August 26, 1928 she accompanied her friend to a café where her friend ordered some refreshments for both of them. They ordered two slabs of ice cream over which was poured some ginger beer in a tumbler. The ginger beer was in a dark, opaque glass bottle on which the contents and the name of the manufacture were not readable. It said that beer was manufactured by the defendant Stevenson. When she had already finished half of it, her friend in order to refill her glass poured the rest there were found to be dead snail floating on the top. After witnessing this sight, the appellant fell ill and suffered major gastro problems with severe vomit and nausea. She filled a suite against Stevenson for the damages. On May 26, 1932 the appeal was accepted in the House of lords on the ground that plaintiff would be able to prove that she was the victim due to lack of due care of the product.

Major Questions

  1. Was the Manufacture known about the presence of any impurity in the bottle of beer?
  2. Was the Manufacturer liable for the due care towards appellant?
  3. Was he be liable under the tort of Negligence?

Judgment of the Bench

The decision which came in this totally bent in the favor of Mrs. Donoghue as the House Of Lords held that the manufacturer was liable under the principle of due care that the product which came in the market was not contaminated and did not have any contagious substance. Moreover, he would also be liable under the breach of duty. It was further held by Lord Atkin that if the product sold by the manufacture intend to reach the ultimate customer in the market and they are not left with any possibility to examine the product in between and in case there is no reasonable care in the preparation of the product. And if the same causes injury to the end consumer’s life or property, he owes the Duty of Care towards the damages caused.

Conclusion

Hence, we can conclude that the decision was basically based on the judgments of many previous cases which deferred the bench to consider the claims of Mrs. Donoghue. As, followed by the decision in the case of Heaven v. Pender[ii] where it was held that a duty of care did arise when there were damages caused to the appellant. Considering the facts of the appeal it was decided in the favor of Mrs. Donoghue and tort was resolved by paying the damages by the manufacturer.


[i] ((1932) A.C. 562.)

[ii] ( (1883) 11 QBD 503)