The neighbour principle is the test for determining when an individual or legal entity may owe a duty of care to another in the tort of negligence.

It comes from the landmark civil case Donoghue v Stevenson [1932], in which Lord Atkin wrote:

“The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. 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.”

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562

In order to prove liability in the tort of negligence, three criteria must be met:

The neighbour principle is vital in proving that a duty of care exists between one individual or legal entity and another.

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