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

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3.1 Stevenson’s pleadings

There were a number of legal issues which confronted the law lords. The legal issue in dispute put by Stevenson’s counsel as grounds for opposing Donoghue’s claim was:

The general rule was that a manufacturer owed no duty to a consumer with whom he had no contract.

(Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, p. 34)

In Week 4 you considered the restricted circumstances in which delict recognised a legal responsibility not to act negligently.

Activity 2 The exceptions

Timing: (Allow about 15 minutes)

Read this fuller extract of the submissions made on behalf of Stevenson, the defender and respondent in the House of Lords in the case. Consider the submissions and make a list of the circumstances in which negligence might give rise to legal responsibility to others.

The general rule was that a manufacturer owed no duty to a consumer with whom he had no contract. To this rule there were two well recognised exceptions–(1) where the article was dangerous in itself; (2) where the article was known to the manufacturer to be dangerous for some reason or other. The present case did not fall within either of these exceptions, and the appellant was trying to introduce into the law a third exception, viz., goods intended for human consumption and sent out by the manufacturer and sold to the consumer in a form in which examination was impossible.

(Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562, p. 34)

Comment

Stevenson’s counsel acknowledge the following circumstances in which negligence might give rise to legal responsibility to others as:

  • where the product is an inherently dangerous one, such as fireworks
  • where the manufacturer knew it was dangerous.