Commercial establishments serving alcohol to patrons have duties under statute and common law to patrons and third parties who may be injured by intoxicated patrons. The duty is to take positive steps to prevent patrons from becoming impaired. Alcohol providers may be liable even though the patron was intoxicated upon arriving at the establishment and despite the patron not showing obvious signs of intoxication. It is the provider’s responsibility to ensure an appropriate system of service and ongoing monitoring is in place to prevent injuries as a result of intoxication. The Liquor Licence Act prohibits service of alcohol to one who is or appears to be intoxicated. The Court of Appeal for Ontario recently held that a plaintiff may call evidence of over-service of patrons of the hotel before, during and after the incident and is not restricted to evidence from the night of the incident giving rise to the lawsuit. Taverns may be held responsible for a portion of the plaintiff’s contributory negligence if the Plaintiff failed to take care for her own safety due to impairment which is the fault of the tavern under the Liquor Licence Act. Liability under s. 39 of the Liquor Licence Act is a statutory liability arises once the factual pre-conditions provided for therein have been found to exist.
This post contribution authored by Tara Pollitt, a lawyer in our office at McCall Dawson Osterberg Handler LLP.