Before 1932 there was no generalised duty of care in negligence. The tort did exist and was applied in particular situations where the courts had decided that a duty should be owed, eg, road accidents, bailments or dangerous goods. In Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562, Lord Atkin attempted to lay down a general principle which would cover all the circumstances where the courts had already held that there could be liability for negligence. He said:
"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."
This test has been criticised as being too wide but it made it easier for lawyers to argue that there should be liability for negligently causing harm in new situations, not previously covered by case law. In 1970, Lord Reid said that Lord Atkin's dictum ought to apply unless there was some justification or valid explanation for its exclusion (Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co  AC 1004).
In Anns v Merton LBC  2 All ER 492, the House of Lords confirmed this. Lord Wilberforce stated that:
"in order to establish that a duty of care arises in a particular situation, it is not necessary to bring the facts of that situation within those of previous situations in which a duty of care has been held to exist. Rather the question has to be approached in two stages. First one has to ask whether, as between the alleged wrongdoer and the person who has suffered damage there is a sufficient relationship of... [continues]
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