One For The Road: Social Host Liability In B.C.
Planning on having a party or celebration? Serving alcohol at the event? This may be a good time to make sure that you are fully aware of your legal responsibilities as a host with guests that may be intoxicated and engaging in risky behaviour.
Is a Host Liable for What Happens to Guests After They Leave?
The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” According to William v. Richard, a leading court case on host liability, “there is no clear formula for determining whether a duty of care is owed by social hosts to third parties or guests.” Liability of hosts is determined on a case-by-case basis on a number of factors, the most important of those being proximity and foreseeability.
In this context, proximity refers to the closeness of the relationship between the host and guest. If there is a sufficiently close relationship to merit duty of care, the host can be held liable. However, if the host does not have close proximity to the guest, they do not bear responsibility unless other factors make them liable.
In the context of social host liability, “foreseeability” refers to the foreseeability of harm. If a host has foreseeability of harm, they can be held liable for the guest’s injuries or actions that cause harm to others. If a host could reasonably have known that an intoxicated guest was planning to engage in a risky activity, such as driving while impaired, the host is considered to have foreseeability and can be considered responsible if they did not take any actions to put a stop to the dangerous behaviour.
Other factors that may be taken into consideration when determining host liability include the number of guests, whether the host supplied alcohol, and whether dangerous behaviour such as underage consumption of alcohol is happening with the host’s knowledge.
If you have a case regarding the liability of a social host, it is important to consult with a lawyer who has relevant experience. At Hoogbruin & Company, our lawyers are very familiar with social host liability in B.C. and are happy to help you determine your best next steps in order to produce the best outcome for you. Get in touch today for a legal consultation