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Liability of Party Hosts

December 18, 2013

What happens if you host a party and one of your guests gets impaired, drives away and is involved in a car crash where an innocent person is catastrophically injured? The answer is that you might get sued.


In 2006 the case ‘Childs’ as decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in which a couple had hosted a BYOB party on New Year’s Eve. One of their guests drank 12 beers and then drove home. On the way home the guest smashed into another car leaving a teenage girl who was in the vehicle with a severed spine and paralyzed from the waist down.


In the Childs case, the Supreme Court found that the party hosts were not liable. They did not see their guest drink all 12 beers and did not know that he was intoxicated. Because the party was BYOB, the only alcohol that the hosts served was a glass of champagne. The outcome may well have been different if the hosts knew that their guest was intoxicated and played a more active role in getting their guest intoxicated.


Impaired driving is reckless and dangerous. People who drink should take responsibility for their own actions and as hosts, it is important to ensure that our guests take that responsibility seriously.


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