Good Samaritan Law/Unterlassene Hilfeleistung

The latest programme in the BBC radio series ‘Law in Action’ can be heard here till the next programme on Friday June 11th) has a section on whether Britain should have what is called a Good Samaritan law or good citizen law.

It’s difficult to draft such a law. One of the questions is ‘Who is the passer-by?’ The good Samaritan story has been called on before, in the case of Donoghue v. Stevenson in the early 1930s, extending the law of tort, when Lord Atkin (‘the Denning of his day’ passes through my mind) asked, ‘Who, then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.’

Here’s the case, also known as the snail in the ginger beer case.

Here’s a new approach to the good Samaritan parable, told in answer to a lawyer’s question, of course. You can watch a film of the parable, but it seems to have been transplanted to the American mid-west, and I don’t recommend it. Here’s the text from the King James Bible, Luke 10:25-10:37.

It looks to me as if Good Samaritan statutes cover more than this in the U.S.A. They may penalize those who don’t give assistance, but they may give immunity to those who do (because it is so risky for a doctor to stop to help someone for fear of medical negligence claims).

2 thoughts on “Good Samaritan Law/Unterlassene Hilfeleistung

  1. But then it is highly likely that it was ginger and not ginger beer in the bottle in Paisley. Any reader of the Beano will know that ginger is Scots for a fizzy drink.

  2. Ann, do you think so, despite the fact that the case refers to pursuer and defender in its summary? ‘Mrs. Donoghue (née M’Alister) averred that a friend purchased a bottle of ginger-beer for her in Minchella’s café in Paisley; that Minchella took the metal cap off the bottle, which was made of dark opaque glass, and poured some of the contents into a tumbler; that, having no reason to suspect that it was anything other than pure ginger-beer, she drank some of the contents; that when her friend refilled her glass from the bottle there floated out the decomposed remains of a snail; …’
    I just found a Scottish report that says there was ice-cream in the glass. This is completely new to me!
    http://www.scottishlawreports.org.uk/resources/keycases/dvs/donoghue-v-stevenson-report.html

    And at the bottom of the following page you can read about a trip by Canadian lawyers to Paisley!
    http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/library/bulletin/body_bulletin_bb-90-03.html

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