Donoghue v Stevenson

The Paisley Snail MiniTrial

9. The Pursuer’s Closing Speech to the Jury – a possible outline

Senior counsel for the Pursuer stands and says (as a courtesy to the court)

“May it please your Lordship.”

Counsel then makes his / her way from his seat round into the well of the court to stand directly in front of the jury. Counsel begins with something along the following lines:–

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I now have the opportunity to address you on behalf of the pursuer May Donoghue. As you have heard, the question for you is set out in the Issue. Would you please look at that document again with me?

First of all, on behalf of the pursuer, I am inviting you to answer the Issue (the main question) “Yes”.

The reasons why you should answer the Issue “Yes” are as follows:–

1. As a matter of fact, the incident happened as May Donoghue alleges. That is clear from the evidence of …
2. The incident was caused by the fault of the Defender. Mr Stevenson or his employees did not take reasonable care. That is clear from the evidence of …
3. May Donoghue sustained injury caused by that fault. That is clear from the evidence of …
4.      Finally, the evidence from the defender should be rejected. The suggestions made by the defender should not be accepted because …

Accordingly you should answer the Issue “Yes”.

You should also assess damages – by inserting the appropriate figures against each of the 4 heads of claim which are all set out in the Issue.

Head (1) is for past solatium – that is the pain and suffering and distress experienced by May Donoghue from the time of the incident to date.

Head (2) is for future solatium – that is the pain suffering and distress that May Donoghue will experience as a result of the incident in future – from today onwards.

Head (3) “past wage Loss” has been agreed between the parties – so you should insert the agreed figure of £200.

Head (4) “expenses” has also been agreed – so you should insert the agreed figure of £50.

The assessment of damages is a matter for you. When selecting the appropriate figure for solatium you will no doubt bear in mind the evidence of:–

a.

b.

c.

On the whole evidence, you may well take the view that your awards should be substantial – to properly reflect the evidence.

Finally, I should say that the figure of £25,000 which is mentioned in the Issue is a maximum. You cannot award more that £25,000. If you consider it appropriate you could award £25,000 in total but you could not award any more than that.

In short, I am inviting you firstly to answer the Issue “Yes” – and then to make a reasonable assessment of damages totalling up to but no more than £25,000.

Thank you for your attention.

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