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Torts pp 169-179 | Cite as

Product Liability

  • Alastair Mullis
  • Ken Oliphant
Chapter
Part of the Macmillan Professional Masters book series (PAPRMA)

Abstract

The most famous product liability case of all is perhaps the most famous in all of the law of tort: no defective product has ever since achieved the notoriety of Mrs Donoghue’s bottle of ginger beer and its alleged contents, the decaying remnants of a snail. In deciding that case, Lord Atkin laid down the following test of liability for products in the common law of negligence:

‘[A] manufacturer of products which he sells in such a form as to show he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him, with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in injury to the consumer’s life or property, owes a duty to that consumer to take that reasonable care.’ (Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562, 599)

The case allowed consumers rights against manufacturers of defective products that they lacked under the law of contract. Contract law provided consumer plaintiffs with very powerful remedies against those defendants with whom they could establish privity of contract. Most significantly, contractual remedies were available even where the defendant was in no way at fault as liability for breach of contract is, in general, strict.

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Copyright information

© Alastair Mullis and Ken Oliphant 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alastair Mullis
    • 1
  • Ken Oliphant
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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