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Legopedia

Know About Neighbor in Terms of Law

Introduction To Neighbor Law

The ‘Neighbor Law ’ is laid down from the leading case Donoghue V. Stevenson. Lord Atkin in his judgment added Duty of Care and Neighbor Principle in the law of negligence. In Donoghue V. Stevenson case, Mrs. Donoghue with her friend went to a café where the friend bought a ginger beer and ice-cream for Mrs. Donoghue. The bottle of the ginger beer was opaque so the contents of the bottle were not all visible. When she poured the ginger beer to her ice-cream, she saw the decomposed snail in the bottle. But she already consumed most of the contents of the bottle before discovering about the snail. Later, she fell ill and her doctor diagnosed that she was suffering from gastroenteritis and nervous shock. Then, she sued David Stevenson, who was the manufacturer of ginger beer.

Firstly she appealed to the trial court, where her appeal was dismissed stating that there was no breach of contract, it was Mrs. Donoghue friend who bought the ginger beer for her. Then she appealed again in House of Lords where she was successful. The main issue of the case was whether the manufacturer of ginger beer has any legal duty towards his consumer to take reasonable care that the product which he is manufacturing is free from any kind of defect which can cause injury to any person.

Three main points were given in the case.

1) Negligence:

It was held in this case that there was negligence from David Stevenson side. Mrs. Donoghue hadn’t bought the ginger beer so there was no contractual agreement. But the presence of decomposed snail in the bottle which caused injury amounts to negligence.

2) The duty of Care:

Every manufacturer has the duty of care towards their consumer that whatever product they are producing must be free from any kind of defect and should not cause any kind of injury to any person. The manufacturer of ginger beer i.e. Stevenson has breached his duty of care.

3) Neighbor Principle:

This principle extended the negligence beyond tortfeasor and immediate party. The question is raised that who might be affected by anyone’s negligence action. In this case, Mrs. Donoghue received ginger beer as a gift from her friend; so she was a neighbor and she will not count as the part of the contract. Lord Atkin said that you must not cause any kind of injury to your neighbor. Then the Lawyer’s asked him who is my neighbor? He answered, “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor.” Lawyer’s asked another question that who then in law is my neighbor? He said, “The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omission which are called in question.” In simple words, you can say that a person who should take proper and reasonable care to keep away the acts and omissions which he can reasonably foresee and predict that the particular act and omission which cause injury to the neighbor.

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by Vinita

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