Discuss the development of the concept of the duty of care in the tort of negligence Prior to 1932, the year of the Appeal Court's decision in Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), there was no standardised duty of care in negligence cases. The wrong or tort was acknowledged in certain situations. Grade: A-C |
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Prior to 1932, the year of the Appeal Court's decision in Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), there was no standardised duty of care in negligence cases. The wrong, or tort, was acknowledged in certain situations. These situations depended upon the courts finding that a duty was owed. Examples included, road accidents, bailments and dangerous goods. So the tort existed but it's application was limited to these special circumstances and questions arose as to whether this could be justified. In Donoghue v Stevenson the opportunity arose for Lord Atkin to draw up a general rule or principle which would cover all the situations where the courts had already held that a party could be held liable in negligence. Donoghue v |Stevenson is of course the well known case of the rotting snail in a bottle of ginger beer. May Donoghue brought a claim for damages against David Stevenson after finding the rotting snail in a bottle of ginger beer made by him. The problem at the time was who could Ms Donoghue sue? She was unable to sue the owner of the café successfully, either in contract or tort. Mrs. Donoghue’s only possible recourse was to sue Stevenson, the manufacturer of the ginger beer. Success depended on the question: “…whether the manufacturer of an article of drink sold by him to a distributor, in circumstances which prevent the distributor or the ultimate purchaser or consumer from discovering by inspection any defect, is under any legal duty to the ultimate purchaser or consumer to take reasonable care that the article is free from defect likely to cause injury to health.” Lord Atkin stated: "The rule that you are to love your neighbour...
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