On The Lighter Side


In the Wellmeadow café in Paisley, Scotland, in August 1928, two ladies ordered their tea, and thereby changed the course of legal history. Mrs May Donoghue asked for an ‘ice cream float’, for which her friend paid. The café owner poured ginger beer over ice cream, and when he topped her up, Mrs Donoghue watched a decomposed snail float out of the ginger beer bottle. She took to her bed, then took the ginger beer manufacturers all the way to the House of Lords. In 1942, with enemy bombers whizzing overhead, the most senior court in the United Kingdom took time to consider her and her decomposed snail. It was found that even though she had not paid for the drink herself, the ginger beer company owned her a ‘duty of care’, and she won her case. (Donoghue v Stevenson, 1942)

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