The trend of Canadian consumers and licensees challenging how provincial governments regulate, tax, and sell alcohol is alive and well in 2018. The anticipation in advance of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Comeau, and the widespread media attention following its release, speaks for itself. From coast-to-coast Canadians are dissatisfied with the regimes in place in their respective provinces that tax and restrict the sale of alcohol. The ink spilled over Comeau tells us something else too: very few Canadians actually understand how the liquor licensing and retail regimes in their respective provinces operate.
St. Patrick’s Day is a big source of business for the liquor industry. While all owners and managers hope that the day will run smoothly, and profitably, the failure by staff to comply with the terms of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, namely by over-service, can put a damper on the festivities. Regrettably, the Brew Street Craft and Kitchen learned this the hard way last year.
Many British Columbians consider access to alcohol a serious issue. In fact the laws surrounding access to alcohol in British Columbia are the very reason this blog exists. Still for others, access to alcohol is not just a serious or even a legal issue – its a matter of human rights.
British Columbia’s Court of Appeal ended 2017 with a stinging rebuke of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch’s October, 2016 decision to cancel the liquor licences of Dell Lanes, a family-operated bowling alley in Surrey, B.C. Madam Justice Newbury, after being left with a “sense of unease” concerning the decision-making process followed by the Branch ordered that the bowling alley’s licences be renewed, albeit with some additional conditions.
If a liquor inspector or police officer observes a contravention of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, Regulation or the terms and conditions of your establishment’s licence, they will issue a contravention notice. If the contravention is a recurring problem or a threat to public safety, the inspector may recommend enforcement action. At that point you as licensee will be given the option of signing a waiver notice or proceeding to an enforcement hearing. Licensees should discuss this important election with counsel at the earliest opportunity.
British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is reviewing its policies on naming and signage for establishments with food primary liquor licences. You can read the consultation paper here.
Alcohol & Advocacy has written previously about the law of social and commercial host liability; two separate but related categories of relationships that may attract legal liability. The recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Wardak v. Froom suggests that the categories of relationships that may attract legal liability could soon be expanding.
Restaurants banning tipping and transitioning to “gratuity included” pricing is not a new concept. While such arrangements rarely last, from time-to-time news breaks of avant-garde restaurateurs who attempt to throw off the tipping yoke, and launch eateries where management (and not patrons) have control over staff compensation leading (in theory) to a more equitable workplace. The thought process is that gratuities left to wait staff, even in establishments that engage in some form of tip pooling, are rarely distributed “fairly” to the important people who work in the kitchen, clear the tables, and take the reservations. The solution? Mark-up menu prices by 20% and pay all staff a living wage.
Earlier this summer Mr. Justice Boswell of the Federal Court of Canada released his decision in Diageo Canada Inc. v. Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., which resolved a trademark and passing off dispute between two significant players in the liquor industry. At issue in Diageo v. Heaven Hill is the similarity in Diageo’s Captain Morgan mark, and Heaven Hill’s Admiral Nelson mark. Both marks are used by their respective owners to identify and market their lines of rum.
Alcohol & Advocacy has previously examined the law of commercial host liability in British Columbia. Today most patrons and employees of licensed establishments are familiar with the concept of commercial host liability: bars and restaurants owe a duty or care to ensure that if their patrons become intoxicated they do not harm themselves or others who come in contact with them. The classic example of a situation where a commercial host will be found liable is when an over-served customer gets behind the wheel, and later harms another user of the road.