Category Archives for Canadian Liquor Law Issues

Charter Rights and Vancouver’s BarWatch Program

In the recent British Columbia Supreme Court decision R. v. Roudiani, the accused was charged with aggravated assault arising from an incident near the intersection of Granville and Smithe Streets in Vancouver – the heart of the Granville Entertainment District. Mr. Roudiani was ultimately acquitted and those reasons can be read in full here. Mr. Roudiani was successfully defended by a friend of Alcohol & Advocacy – Mr. Joven Narwal.

Of interest to readers of Alcohol & Advocacy is the unreported decision of Mr. Justice N. Smith on a voir dire relating to the admissibility of BarWatch records at trial. Mr. Roudiani asserted that the use of this information gathered by the police during its investigation was a breach of his Charter right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Alberta announces changes to “modernize” liquor laws

On October 22, 2018 the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission announced that “effective immediately” bars and restaurants are allowed to mix liquor products with ingredients such as spices, herbs and fruits as well as create house-aged liquor products. Additional changes will allow Albertans to take liquor served at a hotel bar to their rooms or other areas within the hotel.

British Columbia’s liquor laws have permitted these practices since January, 2017.

Other key changes include:

  • Ferment-on-Premises: Albertans are able to make their own beer or wine at licensed facilities and then take it home.
  • Seniors lodges: Facility owners and operators can authorize residents to consume their own supply of liquor within other rooms and common areas.
  • Theatregoers: As the final curtain drops, guests and performers can enjoy liquor products past the final curtain within the licensed areas of the venue, should the licensee wish to provide the opportunity.

The complete news release can be read here.

Hughes v. Liquor Control Board of Ontario: 2000 Beer Framework Agreement

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.

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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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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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Toronto Distillery Company unsuccessful at Court of Appeal

It’s fitting that after a year of significant liquor law announcements, reforms, and court cases coming from across the country, the Ontario Court of Appeal would release a liquor law decision just before the start of the New Year. While the result was unfortunate for the Toronto Distillery Company, and affirms a common practice used by liquor control boards to extract tax revenue from small producers, it does provide food for thought for liquor lawyers from coast-to-coast.

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