Category Archives for Commercial Host Liability

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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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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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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Brissette v. Cactus Club Cabaret Ltd.

On March 16, 2016 the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its reasons for judgment in Brissette v. Cactus Club Cabaret Ltd. Madam Justice Gropper’s reasons for judgment can be found here. Brissette was a slander case: Mr. Brissette alleged that a manager at the Cactus Club restaurant at Canada Place in Vancouver, B.C. slandered him by making false statements to others that he inappropriately touched the server who was looking after his party that evening. The case has been widely reported in the media.

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