St. Patrick’s Day Safety – Reviewing Commercial Host Liability Before the Big Weekend


St. Patrick’s Day is an excellent occasion to celebrate the culture and history of the Irish. As a former waiter, bartender, and university student, I can also confirm that St. Patrick’s Day provides an opportunity to socialize with one’s friends and colleagues over a pint of beer. As this year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, restaurateurs will direct their best efforts to keep festivities going all weekend. With more days to revel in the festivities, come more opportunities for accidents.

Commercial Host Liability provides that commercial hosts owe a duty to their patrons to ensure the premises is safe. Under the Liquor License Act, a holder of a liquor license cannot permit drunkenness, violent or disorderly conduct on their premises or in areas directly adjacent to the premises. A restaurant owner who allows dangerous activities to occur on their premises is liable to anyone who is injured as a result. It is also of note that bar owners must maintain control over the premises including who may enter and exit and what activities are permitted to occur on the premises. If you are assaulted in a bar or on adjacent premises, the owner may bear liability for your injuries.

Many bars employ security personnel to ensure the safety of their premises. Security personnel such as door security and ‘bouncers’ are essential to maintaining a safe establishment. Security personnel in Ontario must hold a security license. To obtain a license, candidates must complete 40-hours of training which includes CPR and First Aid. A mindful security guard is well equipped to handle any situation with minimal physical interaction.  However, some of these individuals can be overzealous in carrying out their duties. Aggressive security personnel occasionally cause unnecessary harm to patrons while trying to maintain a safe environment. If you are injured by door security, a bouncer, or other security personnel, both the security guard and their employer may be liable for your injuries.

One of the most significant principles of Commercial Host Liability is the duty of care that establishment owners owe to their patrons and other individuals for injuries that do not occur at their establishment. A commercial host may be liable for injuries suffered by an intoxicated patron, the patron’s companions and any other person injured by the intoxicated person. To be held liable, the establishment owner must have been aware that their guest was intoxicated and presented a risk of harm, and that the harm actually caused the injury in question. This is especially important for intoxicated persons who injure themselves or others on the way home from an establishment. Commercial hosts should always strive to ensure that intoxicated patrons do not attempt to drive home. However, a commercial host could still be found liable for injuries that a patron or their companion suffered while walking home if the injury was caused by that person’s intoxication. Commercial Host liability can extend from the moment a patron leaves an establishment until the moment they reach their home safely depending on the circumstances.

If you’ve been injured at a commercial establishment or injured by a person you believe consumed alcohol at a commercial establishment, call the Jasmine Daya & Co. team at 416-967-9100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.