Donoghue v Stevenson

Textual versions of document images

Donoghue v Stevenson – Appeal Papers – Judgments

Lord Macmillan Page 10

View an image of the original document

10

person, even by the person who manufactured it to another, the former should be answerable to the latter for a subsequent damage accruing by the use of it." I read this passage rather as a note of warning that the standard of care exacted in human dealings with each other must not be pitched too high, than as giving any countenance to the view that negligence may be exhibited with impunity. It must always be a question of circumstances whether the carelessness amounts to negligence and whether the injury is not too remote from the carelessness. I can readily conceive that where a manufacturer has parted with his product and it has passed into other hands it may well be exposed to vicissitudes which may render it defective or noxious and for which the manufacturer could not in any view be held to be to blame. It may be a good general rule to regard responsibility as ceasing when control ceases. So also where between the manufacturer and the user there is interposed a party who has the means and opportunity of examining the manufacturer's product before he re-issues it to the actual user. But where as in the present case the article of consumption is so prepared as to be intended to reach the consumer in the condition in which it leaves the manufacturer and the manufacturer takes steps to ensure this by sealing or otherwise closing the container, so that the contents cannot be tampered with, I regard his control as remaining effective until the article reaches the consumer and the container is opened by him. The intervention of any exterior agency is intended to be excluded and was in fact in the present case excluded. It is doubtful whether in such a case there is any redress against the retailer (Gordon v. McHardy, 1903, 6 F. 210).

    The burden of proof must always be upon the injured party to establish that the defect which caused the injury was present in the article when it left the hands of the party whom he sues, that the defect was occasioned by the carelessness of that party and that the circumstances are such as to cast upon the defender a duty to take care not to injure the pursuer. There is no presumption of negligence in such a case as the present, nor is there any justification for applying the maxim res ipsa loquitur. Negligence must be both averred and proved. The appellant accepts this burden of proof and in my opinion she is entitled to have an opportunity of discharging it if she can. I am accordingly of opinion that this appeal should be allowed, the judgment of the Second Division of the Court of Session reversed and the judgment of the Lord Ordinary restored.

Lord Macmillan Page 10