In October 1931 Lord Atkin delivered a paper at King’s College, London. He was speaking on the theme of legal education. What he said is of interest for students of Donoghue v Stevenson. This is the relevant part of what he said.

‘…law and morality do not cover identical fields.

No doubt morality extends beyond the more limited range in which you can lay down the definite prohibitions of law; but, apart from that, the British law has always necessarily ingrained in it moral teaching in this sense: that it lays down standards of honesty and plain dealing between man and man.

The idea of law is that the obligations of a man are to keep his word.

If he swears to his neighbour, he is not to disappoint him. In other words, he is to keep his contracts.

 He is not to injure his neighbour by word. That is to say, he is not to libel or slander him. He is not to commit perjury in respect of him, and he is not to defraud him into acting to his detriment by telling him lies.

He is not to injure his neighbour by acts of negligence; and that certainly covers a very large field of the law.

I doubt whether the whole of the law of tort could not be comprised in the golden maxim to do unto your neighbour as you would that he should do unto you.’

Editorial note: You can find this paper at the Journal of the Society of Public Teachers of Law (1932) 27 which can be accessed via Hein online.

Paragraphing added for ease of reading.