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

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2.2 Reactions to the case

Mrs Donoghue won her legal point in the House of Lords. Although the reaction to the Law Lords’ decision was predictably mixed, there was more support than criticism among the legal community; it was celebrated as a necessary step forward in the law of delict (negligence) and as a decision that brought the law more in line with contemporary social and economic sensibilities.

In the Law Quarterly Review, the eminent Sir Frederick Pollock praised the ‘Scots Lords’, including Lord Atkin, for ‘overriding the scruples of English colleagues who could not emancipate themselves from the pressure of a supposed current of authority in English Courts’. 

Insofar as the decision bore on public consciousness, there was welcome approval. Whereas the newspaper, The Scotsman, wrote that the decision ‘should be welcomed by the public’.

The Law Times said that the decision was ‘revolutionary’ and represented a ‘radical change’ in tort law that was ‘strictly in accord with the needs of modern economic times’. This illustrates the perception at the time for the need to shape the relationship between legal doctrine and social conditions.