How to Find the Most Important Case in the Common Law

Maybe this will help us all. TALL has started a Quicklaw tips wiki. Considering the recent posts about the level of service provided by publishers, and the availability of one jurisdiction’s law in another, I wonder if I’m alone in wondering why it remains so difficult to find a copy of Donoghue v Stevenson in QL. We all know about the case, and some of the excellent resources available online, and in video. However, as a prelude to our annual eFair, where we are asking students to complete their prize ballots by finding information related to the case from each publisher (we invite them to set up tables in our LSS lounge), I tried to find the decision on Quicklaw. I won’t bore you with the long list of barriers I encountered, but they fall into the categories of red herrings, wild goose chases, and quibbling over details. Suffice it to say that I could not find this case by name, even after I had located it by other means and had cut-and-pasted the blasted thing into the engine.


  1. Yes – I wondered why one would start with QL. The Leeds site has the full text and it’s in the 135th Anniversary Edition of the Law Reports that will be sent to anyone. See

  2. Putting in a plug for free access to law, it is easy to find Donoghue v. Stevenson on by doing a case name search. Although most free sites have little in the way of historical cases, the Open Law Project on Bailii involved asking legal scholars to select leading cases in various subject areas, and then adding them to the Bailii collection. It has resulted in an impressive list of leading cases from the UK that are freely available.

  3. Just to give credit where credit is due, TALL was not involved in the creation of the QuickLaw Tips Wiki. It was created by Laurel Murdoch from postings on the TALL listserv.