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Alberta Law Update: Snails in the Ginger-Beer and Negligence

The law of negligence stands for the proposition that if you are careless and it causes a foreseeable loss to someone you can be liable. The leading case is M'Alister (Donoghue) v. Stevenson [1932]AC562, a Scottish case.


The Plaintiff and her friend were at a cafe in Scotland. The Plaintiff ordered a drink made with Ginger-Beer, which came in a brown bottle that was not see-through. The Plaintiff drank most of her drink. When she went to pour out the remainder of her drink, a decomposed snail came into her glass. She suffered from shock and severe gastro-enteritis. Stevenson was the manufacturer. The claim was that Stevenson owed a duty of care to make sure that there were no noxious substances in the ginger beer.


In addition to creating a very vivid image in one's mind, this case developed the law of negligence. Lord Aitken said at 580:

You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law is my neighbour? 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 omissions which are called in question.


Negligence can be a very broad area. If you have suffered a loss due to negligence, or alternatively found a snail in your ginger beer, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.



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