A major mock trial has taken place at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to mark the 90th anniversary of a world famous Scottish legal case that shaped modern consumer law.

Students, legal professionals and around 50 schoolchildren recreated Donoghue v Stevenson, more commonly known as the “snail in the bottle” case, at the University’s Paisley campus.

It all began when May Donoghue’s friend bought her a ginger beer ice cream float at the town’s Wellmeadow Café, located on the corner of Well Street and Lady Lane – just metres away from the University.

Inside the bottle of ginger beer were the decomposing remains of a snail, something Mrs Donoghue was unaware of until the final drops of the fizzy drink were poured into her glass.

Although the lawsuit was eventually resolved out of court, the debate surrounding the case had a seismic impact, laying the groundwork for the modern law of negligence.


Photo: School pupils and law students took to the dock as part of the mock trial
Photo Credit: University of the West of Scotland

Susannah Paul, a lecturer in Law at UWS, said: “This is one of the best known, and most significant, cases in Scottish legal history, and its impact is felt right around the world.

“Given the milestone anniversary, it felt appropriate to hold this mini-trial, and I’m delighted that we were able to do so with enthusiastic pupils and members of the legal profession, including the Sheriff Principal of Paisley Sheriff Court.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took part.”

The event, organised in conjunction with the Law Society of Scotland, saw pupils from St Andrews Academy in Paisley, Lesmahagow High and Coatbridge High, participate in mini-trials; judged by Sheriff Principal Sean

Murphy QC and Michael Upton, from the Faculty of Advocates.


Photo: Sheriff Principal Sean Murphy QC quizzes school pupils involved in the mock trial
Photo Credit: University of the West of Scotland

Students from the University’s BA Law course also participated in the re-enactment, taking up key roles in the mock court.

Alison McNab, Law Society of Scotland Policy Manager, said: “More than 30 speakers from over 15 countries took part in the Law Society’s Donoghue v Stevenson 90th Anniversary Conference earlier this month, showcasing the geographical reach and international impact of the landmark case.

“Now, as the University of the West of Scotland Mini-Trials event brings the case to life for the next generation of legal students, we can see the importance of the immortal snail’s legacy in action. It is truly a privilege to be part of that.”

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