All Posts by Dan Coles

Wardak v. Froom: Is the law of social host liability about to change?

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.

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Gratuity Included: The Timothy Brown Class Action

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.

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Diageo v. Heaven Hill: Passing off in the liquor industry

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.

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Understanding Social Host Liability

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.

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Contravention Notice:  Failing to promptly produce and submit a record

A licensee in British Columbia may receive a Contravention Notice from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for a variety of reasons; serving minors and over-serving patrons are two of the most common. However, another issue arises with more frequency than most managers and owners probably realize: failing to promptly produce a record or thing for inspection.

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Commercial Host Liability in British Columbia

On March 8, 2017 Mr. Justice Kent of the Supreme Court of British Columbia released his reasons in Widdowson v. The Cambie Malone’s Corporation – British Columbia’s most recent decision on commercial host liability. The court found the Cambie Malone’s liable for over-serving a patron who later struck Mr. Widdowson with his truck, causing him severe injuries, including brain damage.

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