All Posts by Dan Coles

Roncarelli v. Duplessis: Abuse of power by the Quebec Liquor Commission

Provincial liquor Acts furnish their respective jurisdictions with a complete code for the administration of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Mr. Justice Rand of the Supreme Court of Canada, all the way back in 1959, observed that these provincial Acts recognize the association of wines and liquors as embellishments of food and “its ritual as an interest of the public”. He went on to find that once obtained, a licence or permit to sell alcohol at a bar or restaurant becomes a vital part of that establishment. This was over 60 years ago.

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Gambling in bars in British Columbia

British Columbia’s Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch defines gaming (also called gambling) “as playing or gaming, for money or other stakes, on an uncertain event; it involves chance and the hope of gaining something more than the amount paid to participate.” This definition can be found in the Liquor Primary and Food Primary Terms and Conditions.

Generally speaking, only very limited forms of gaming are permitted in pubs and bars in British Columbia. Slot machines (VLTS) for example are only permitted in licensed gaming venues such as casinos and race tracks. Unlicensed gaming pools, including those associated with major sporting events, are prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada.

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Liquor & Non-medical Cannabis Compliance & Enforcement: A&A’s 2019 round-up

2019 has been a busy year thus far for the British Columbia Liquor & Non-medical Cannabis Compliance & Enforcement program. Sales to minors, serving intoxicated patrons (or serving patrons to the point of intoxication) and staff drinking on the job remain the leading causes of enforcement action. No surprises here.

The rules and regulations in British Columbia that govern how liquor is bought, sold, stored, marketed and consumed are complex and always changing. It is important that licensees and their staff remain informed of changes to Branch policy and the terms and conditions handbook. Below is a snapshot of the enforcement proceedings that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has pursued this year.

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Eastwood v. Walton: Liquor Law and the Importance of Preserving Evidence

On November 24, 2012 Desjardins held a Christmas party at the Versailles Convention Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

Constance Walton, a longtime employee of the credit union, consumed enough alcohol at the party to put her two-to-three times over the legal limit (although she could not recall exactly how many drinks she had that evening). Ms. Walton decided to drive home and became involved in an accident with the plaintiff Whitney Eastwood who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Ms. Eastwood alleges that Versailles, the commercial host on the evening in question, was responsible for the sale, service and monitoring of alcohol consumption by guests and was negligent in the performance of that duty.

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Legal Cannabis and your Liquor Licence

On October 17, 2018, non-medical cannabis was legalized in Canada. In December, 2018, British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch published an information guide to help liquor licensees understand how legalized cannabis may impact their businesses.  A copy of the guide can be found here.

The following topics covered in the publication are of particular interest to readers of Alcohol & Advocacy:

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BC Liquor Branch updates policy for Online Sale and Delivery of Alcohol

On May 24, 2019 the Liquor Control and Cannabis Regulation Branch issued Policy Direction No. 19 – 03 which supersedes Policy Direction No. 16 – 13.

As readers of Alcohol & Advocacy know, in British Columbia private liquor stores (Licensee Retail Stores), Wine Stores and Manufacturers with Onsite Stores may deliver liquor to customers purchased online under certain terms and conditions. We’ve previously written about this topic here.

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BC Liquor Licensing Branch updates Penalty Schedule

On May 22, 2019 the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch issued its 2nd Policy Directive of 2019. After years of frequent, and in many cases dramatic, changes to Branch policy, 2019 has been off to a slow start.

Changes to the Penalty Schedule

The Penalty Schedule (being Schedule 2 to the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation) has been the subject of ongoing discussion and revision at the Branch since the halcyon days of the Yap Report.

In more recent history the first major change to the Penalty Schedule was the introduction of the “choice of penalty” component. This was set out back in Policy Directive No. 16 – 19. Previously the nature of the penalty issued following a contravention (licence suspension vs. penalty) was determined by the general manager. Since January, 2017 licensees on their first contravention who sign a waiver (read “plead guilty”) have generally been permitted to choose the nature of the penalty they receive.

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Williams v. Richard: Ontario Court of Appeal weighs in on Social Host Liability

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 hereWilliams 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.

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