Donoghue v Stevenson

The Paisley Snail MiniTrial

7. The Pursuer’s Opening Speech to the Jury – a possible outline

Junior Counsel can begin with something along the following lines:–

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, you are here today to deal with a claim for damages brought by Mrs May Donoghue against Mr David Stevenson. May Donoghue is seeking compensation for injuries sustained as a result of her drinking ginger-beer which had been manufactured by Mr Stevenson and which was contaminated with the remains of a decomposing snail. I am Junior Counsel for the Pursuer.”

Junior Counsel then summarises in general terms the essential features of the pursuer’s case. For the purposes of MiniTrial that can be done by simply highlighting the important elements of the case as set out in the written pleadings. By this stage the pleadings are contained in the document known as the “Closed Record”. The Pursuer’s Statements are the paragraphs headed “Stat. 1” and so on in the Closed Record. The Defender’s Answers are the indented paragraphs headed “Ans. 1” and so on. It is for Counsel to decide which parts of the Record to specifically highlight – so that is left to the student’s judgement. Counsel might begin by saying for example:–

“The essence of the pursuer’s case is a follows. … (then go to the Closed Record and summarise the main allegations as set out in the pursuer’s pleadings – the paragraphs headed “Stat.”)

Junior counsel can then continue by saying:–

“The question for you is set out in the document called the Issue. Would you please look at that document with me? You will see that it begins with a question – and then it has a list of various heads of damages. On behalf of the pursuer, you will be invited to answer the Issue (the main question) “Yes”. You will also be asked to insert the appropriate figures against each of the heads of damages – all as set out in the Proposed Issue – up to the maximum which is stated to be £25,000. You will now hear the evidence for the pursuer.”

Contents Previous Next End