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Society unveils restored Paisley snail case plaques

8 November 2019

Two commemorative plaques highlighting the importance of the "snail in a bottle case", Donoghue v Stevenson, have been refurbished and unveiled in Paisley today as part of the Law Society of Scotland’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

The famous 1932 case, which laid the foundations of the modern law of negligence, resulted from Mrs May Donoghue falling ill after drinking ginger beer from a bottle which contained the remnants of a dead snail. The drink was bought for her by her friend in the Wellmeadow Cafe in Paisley. Her successful action against the manufacturer of the ginger beer resu with the House of Lords ultimately ruling that the manufacturer owed her a duty of care not to cause the consumer any harm.

The plaques were originally inaugurated in 1990 to commemorate the Paisley Conference on the Law of Negligence, but had recently fallen into a state of disrepair.

John Mulholland, President of the Society commented: “It’s a privilege to be here today to unveil the newly refurbished plaques. This landmark case transformed consumer rights not just in Scotland and the UK, but all over the world.

“Mrs Donoghue’s monumental victory almost 90 years ago established that a manufacturer of a product owed the consumer a duty of care, putting the onus on them to ensure their product would cause no harm to consumers. As part of our own 70th anniversary celebrations we wanted to restore the plaques to their former glory.”

Mr Mulholland was joined at the ceremony by Provost Lorraine Cameron and local MSP George Adam.

Provost Cameron said: “It was an honour to unveil the refurbished plaques. They have been spruced up and reinstalled in that historical meeting place where they were originally placed in 1990. The place is an important piece of Paisley history and is where May Donoghue and her friend sat in what was then the Wellmeadow Cafe.”

Mr Adam added: “As a local MSP I take great pride in knowing that the birth of modern consumer rights, which has helped some of my own constituents, was right here in Paisley. It’s great to see the plaques refurbished and shining bright again.”


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