The Snail and the Ginger Beer
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The Snail and the Ginger Beer : The Singular Case of Donoghue v Stevenson

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On an August evening in 1928 May Donoghue entered a cafe in Paisley. The circumstances of her visit made legal history. A ginger beer was ordered for Mrs Donoghue who famously complained that, to her surprise and shock, a decomposed snail had tumbled from the bottle into her glass. Mrs Donoghue sued for the nervous shock she claimed to have suffered as a result. The question whether she had a case in law against the manufacturer of the ginger beer was argued as far as the House of Lords. It is hard to overstate the importance of the decision in Donoghue v Stevenson. It represents, perhaps, the greatest contribution made by English and Scottish lawyers to the development of the common law.

This case made it clear that, even without a contract between the parties, a duty of care is owed by `A' to take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which could reasonably be foreseen as likely to cause injury to his neighbour: `B'. This concept, developed by the great jurist Lord Atkin, has become known by the universal shorthand, `the neighbour principle'. Who, Lord Atkin asked rhetorically, is `in law' my neighbour? This case provides the answer. This book tells the full story and provides vivid biographical sketches of the protagonists and of the great lawyers who were involved in the case. It sets the case in its historical context and re-evaluates the evidence. he constitutional importance of the case is also dealt with; the blow it struck for a moral approach to the law which departed from a rigid doctrine of precedent. Finally, the book investigates the influence of Donoghue v Stevenson across the common law world: from the USA to the countries of what is now the Commonwealth.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 189 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 9mm | 510g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • UK ed.
  • 0854900497
  • 9780854900497
  • 418,567

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Notes and Acknowledgements
Prologue
1. Mrs Donoghue Travels to Paisley
2. Into the Scottish Courts
3. In the House of Lords
4. A Legal Cast List: Judges and Lawyers
5. Roots of the Neighbour Principle
6. Home Reaction
7. Into the Common World
8. Conclusion
Selected Bibliography;
Index
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About Matthew Chapman

Matthew Chapman lives and works as a barrister in London. His principal areas of practice comprise personal injury and claims with a private international law element. He is the author of Fraudulent Claims: Deceit, Insurance and Practice (2007) and The Fast Track and Personal Injury Claims (1999), and has contributed numerous articles to a range of journals and periodicals.
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Rating details

9 ratings
4.44 out of 5 stars
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4 33% (3)
3 11% (1)
2 0% (0)
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Our customer reviews

YES NO SNAIL... AND AREN'T YOU GLAD IT'S NOT YOUR NEIGHBOUR YOU DRINK WITH! An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers This book is a most welcome piece of legal history for all students, lawyers and laymen interested in how we have arrived at the modern law of negligence. It is a "must" for all who have ever wondered what really happened to the snail and the jurisprudence of the judiciary of the time! Many will recall that on an August evening in 1928 May Donoghue, a shop assistant, entered a café in Paisley. The circumstances of her visit made famous legal history. A ginger beer was ordered for Mrs Donoghue who famously complained that, to her surprise and shock, a decomposed snail had tumbled from the bottle into her glass. Mrs Donoghue sued for the nervous shock she claimed to have suffered as a result. The question whether she had a case in law against the manufacturer of the ginger beer was argued as far as the House of Lords. It is hard to overstate the importance of Donoghue v Stevenson because it represents, perhaps, the greatest contribution made by English and Scottish lawyers to the development of the common law even though it was a split decision. The case makes a legal point clear that, even without a contract between the parties, a duty of care is owed by â?~A' to take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which could reasonably be foreseen as likely to cause injury to his neighbour: â?~B'. This concept, developed by that great and splendid jurist, Lord Atkin, has become known by the universal shorthand, â?~the neighbour principle'. Who, Lord Atkin asked rhetorically, is â?~in law' my neighbour? Donoghue v Stevenson provides the answer. Matthew Chapman tells the full story of this remarkable case brilliantly with all the little bits we missed during our studies and did not have time to know about as students. It provides vivid biographical sketches of the protagonists and of the great lawyers who were involved in the case. The book sets Donoghue v Stevenson in its historical context and re-evaluates the evidence for the 21st century. The roots of the neighbour principle are excavated in the parable of the Good Samaritan and the case law of the United States. The constitutional importance of the case is also dealt with in a masterly way- the blow it struck for a moral approach to the law which departed from a rigid doctrine of precedent. Chapman investigates the influence of Donoghue v Stevenson across the common law world: from the USA to the countries of what is now the Commonwealth. That snail has a lot to answer for, but at least we have a definitive work on what happened... and we never really believed there was a snail in the first place, but what a good story!show more
by Phillip Taylor MBE
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