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CS252Court of Session: Unextracted processes, 3rd arrangement, Inner House, 2nd Division1913-1934
Country code GB
Repository code 234
Repository National Records of Scotland
Reference CS252/2299
Title May McAlister or Donoghue v David Stevenson: Damages
Dates 1931
Access status Open
Access conditions Information in this item is exempt under Section 38 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: Personal Information, and as such will not be available for public consultation until 01/01/2032. To request access to it whilst the exemption is current, please contact the NRS Freedom of Information Officer. For further details please look in the Freedom of Information (FOI) section of our website or ask a member of staff.
Location Off site
Description Year of calling 1929: Reference No. of Transmission 57: Office 2nd Division.

The pursuer, May Donoghue, claimed to have been made ill by drinking a bottle of ginger beer she had bought in a café in Paisley in August 1928. Mrs Donoghue sued, not the proprietor of the café, but the manufacturer of the drink, David Stevenson, aereated water manufacturer, 8 Glen Lane, Paisley. The pursuer claimed that the manufacturer had been negligent in not noticing that the bottle contained a snail before filling it with ginger beer and sealing it.

The case Donoghue versus Stevenson was ground-breaking in Scots law. Previously the customer would have been expected to sue the shopkeeper rather than the manufacturer with whom she had no 'contract'. However, in this instance the drink's manufacturer was found liable for damages, as they had neglected to provide a system to protect the public in such a way that 'snails would not get into the said bottle, render the said ginger-beer dangerous and harmful, and be sold with said ginger-beer'. This case established the law of 'delict'. The claim for damages was settled out of court in 1934, Stevenson having died in 1932.
Level File
Closed until 01/01/2032
Copies A microfilm copy of this process is available.
Publication note For information about the case, see M Chapman, 'The snail and the ginger beer: the singular case of Donoghue v Stevenson' (London, 2010) (NRS Library ref L 047.808); W McBryde, 'Donoghue v Stevenson: the story of the "snail in the bottle" case', in 'Obligations in context: essays in honour of Professor D M Walker' edited by Alan J Gamble (Edinburgh, 1990) (NRS Library ref L 047.810); A Rodger, 'Mrs Donoghue and Alfenus Varus' in 'Current legal problems 1988', volume 41 (1998) (NRS Library ref L 047.812)
Related material This case was appealed to the House of Lords in 1931. The records in the Parliamentary Archives contain the appeal papers and petitions for leave to appeal. These records bear the Parliamentary Archives' references HL/PO/JU/4/3/873, HO/PO/JO/10/10/965/2526 and HL/PO/JO/10/10/965/2527a.

National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: [email protected]