Assignment: Laws 7100
Before Donohue v Stevenson was decided in 1932 it was unclear whether the transferor of a product owed any duty of care to the ultimate receiver of the goods. It was taken as a matter of fact that there was a clear absence of contractual agreement between the parties and therefore no Duty of Care. The only Duty of Care implied was if the goods were in a class of “Dangerous Chattels” (the privity of contract fallacy 10-2) or if the goods in question were known to the transferor as being dangerous. (Langridge V Levy (1837).)
The problem with this framework was not only the fact that ultimate receiver of the goods and the purchaser of the goods were often different individuals, but also in the confusion of the classification of Dangerous Goods. This was prominently highlighted in the case of Hodge v Anglo American Oil Case ((1922) 12 L1.L Rep 183) whereupon Scrutton L.J stated
“Personally, I do not understand the difference between a thing dangerous in itself, as poison, and a thing not dangerous as a class, but by negligent construction dangerous as a particular thing. The latter, if anything, seems the more dangerous of the two; it is a wolf in sheep 's clothing instead of an obvious wolf."
This quote, used by Lord Atkin in his judgment in Donohue V Stevenson, was part of a movement in the evolution of the idea that Duty of Care should extend beyond the purchaser through to the ultimate user. Lord Aitkin framed the future of liability by