In late 2018 the Court of Appeal for Ontario released its reasons for judgment in Williams v. Richard, the latest in a series of court decisions grappling with the concept of social host liability in Canada. The decision can be read in full here. Williams was an appeal from a summary judgment motion where the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for damages arising from serious personal injuries following a single vehicle incident involving a drunk driver. At issue before both the motion judge and the Court of Appeal was the state of social host liability law in Canada.
As Alcohol & Advocacy has previously reported, the law with respect to social host liability in Canada has been uncertain for some time. In another recent decision out of Ontario, Wardak v. Froom, the court refused to determine at an early stage that a social host could not or did not owe its guests a duty of care to prevent them from driving drunk.
Williams, if it proceeds to trial, may establish precedent that firmly expands the legal liability of social hosts to include the actions of their intoxicated guests when they get behind the wheel. The facts in Williams are grim, creating a very real risk that bad facts may lead to bad law.