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Tort of negligence: Home Office vs. Dorset Yacht case

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  1. Introduction
  2. Donoghue v Stevenson
  3. Home Office vs. Dorset
  4. Tort of negligence
  5. Conclusion

The case, Donoghue v Stevenson is the landmark case in the specific tort of negligence. Ms. Donoghue, the claimant, consumed ginger beer, which had a decomposed snail. The snail was invisible as the bottle was opaque. Neither the shopkeeper nor the friend who purchased the beer, nor Ms. Donoghue was aware of the snail's presence. Under the consumer protection legislation, she could not sue either party, hence sued Stevenson the manufacturer. The House of Lords consented to the claim and held that everyone owes a duty of care to their neighbours. The question presented before the House of Lords was whether the facts of the case constituted a cause of action for negligence (Borgo, 1979, pg. 419).

Negligence is an act of carelessness. The elements of negligence encompass a legal duty of care towards the plaintiff and to exercise care in such a manner of the defendant as falls within the area of the duty, breach of that duty where the plaintiff suffers a loss and consequential damages to the plaintiff. Under the law of tort, one needs not present evidence regarding the tortious act. If the Acts speak for themselves, the judge will determine the facts and make the specific rulings.

[...] This decision challenges the ruling and advice given by Lord Reid (Borgo pg. 419). In defining the elements basic to all these cases where the breach of duty of care gives rise to liability, Lord Atkins could not have intended that his words mean that in every case. Failure to undertake reasonable care to avoid any omission reasonably foreseen as likely to cause harm to a neighbour be actioned. He simply meant that an individual could have foreseen that neighbor' was likely to suffer injury through any omission if and only if he was directly and closely affected by the omission. [...]


[...] Under common law, the officers owed no duty of care to the respondent. As stated under common law, there was virtually no authority for imposing such a duty. In addition, the law did not provide for the liability of a person for a wrong done by another person of full age and capacity and who is the not the servant or acting on behalf of that person (Borgo pg. 419). Under public policy, the law of relevant legislation requires that officers should be immune from any such liability. [...]


[...] Despite the principles set forth by Lord Atkins to guide on precedents of negligence, it is evident that every individual ought to be careful before acting since some people will be affected by the actions and legal action taken against the individual for breach of the specified duty of care. The extent of the application of Lord Atkins principle, therefore depends on the specific tort and the realities of the case and to some extent precedents (Koziol, H., Schulze, R., & Antoniolli, L. 2008). Bibliography Baker, C. D. (1986). Tort (4th ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. Borgo, J. (1979). Causal Paradigms in the Law of Tort. The Journal of Legal Studies, eight(3) Cooke, P. [...]

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