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.
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.
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.
Spend enough time in a bar (on either side of the pine) and you’ll eventually hear those words. In some establishments you hear them more than others. So what happens when a patron has had too much to drink, or is being unruly, and the bartender decides it’s time for him or her to move along?
I worked behind a busy bar for a large part of my twenties, and while I saw some pretty crazy stuff, I was fortunate not to encounter any serious violence while on the job. Though I dealt with police and liquor inspectors from time-to-time, it was never the result of a bar fight.