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Law and change: Scottish legal heroes
Law and change: Scottish legal heroes

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1 Background

There is a well-established principle that you should treat your neighbour as you would treat yourself. ‘Your neighbour’ is anyone who, in your daily life, you come into contact with or even anyone who might be affected by your actions. This principle means that you ought not to act carelessly, or negligently, in a way that you could foresee might harm someone else. It is thanks to a Scottish case that this principle has become a general principle of law.

The case which established it as a legal principle and first laid down the elements of the tort of delict (more widely known as negligence in other jurisdictions) was Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 SC (HL) 31; [1932] AC 562.

Figure 1 Citing cases

The case is known to students of law in many countries; especially to those living in common law based jurisdictions as it heralded the right to make a common law claim in negligence. The principle established in the case has been exported from Scotland and adopted in various forms throughout the common law legal world community.

During this week you will encounter a number of legal terms and references. It is more legalistic in its tone as it explores a court case from the early part of the last century. Some of the words and terminology used will be unfamiliar to you and if at any point you are unsure of the meaning of a word you should consult the legal glossary provided on the Judiciary of Scotland website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . or a good dictionary.