Date PostedMay 6, 2013

Reckless Patrons to be held Accountable by the Law

I read an interesting article the other day on the website, which explained that according to the law, patrons are still legally accountable for their reckless behaviour and any reckless acts they may engage in while on licenced premises that cause injury. was commenting on an incident that happened recently which resulted in the accidental death of a patron. consulted a law expert who reiterated that the law protects publicans against reckless patrons to a reasonable extent.

Read what the legal expert had to say on below:

Following the incidence of an accidental death associated with Sydney hotel Jacksons on George, commercial law firm Madgwicks responded to a request from TheShout for comment on operator liabilities.

Madgwicks’ special counsel Scott Aitken declined to comment on the specific circumstances of the incident at Jacksons.

But he advised that while publicans always have a duty of care to their patrons, there is precedent history for drunken occupants being held accountable for their own actions.

“The good news is that the courts have consistently started with the idea that adults, without obvious mental or physical impairment, ought to be able to exercise their ‘free will’. 

“Accordingly, drinking until intoxicated is a deliberate act which must carry with it personal responsibility. 

“So as a starting point, if someone ends up intoxicated and does something stupid, it should be in quite rare circumstances that a court will find the publican is liable for the consequences of that stupid act,” Aitken said.

He said the operator’s liability and duty of care hinges on a logical approach to the likelihood of such an accident.

“To be liable, the risk must be reasonably foreseeable and you have not responded to that risk as would a reasonable person.”Relevant considerations are, ‘the probability that the harm would occur, the likely seriousness of the harm, the burden of taking precautions to avoid the risk, and the social utility of the activity that created the risk’,


From this advice provided by a legal expert it is clear that although patrons are responsible for their own actions, operators do hold some liability if the risk was “reasonably foreseeable” and operators did not respond to that risk.

One of the ways to avoid such incidents from occurring in the first place is to ensure that Responsible Service of Alcohol laws are enforced, most especially laws concerning the serving of alcohol to unduly intoxicated patrons.

In order to learn what RSA laws dictate and how to enforce them workers must undergo Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training.

Serving alcohol to customers to such an extent that they become drunk and begin to act in a disorderly manner opens the door for other incidents to occur which could cause harm to patrons, staff or the problem-makers themselves. The best option is to ensure that staff limit the number of drinks they serve to any one patron and cut them off as soon as they have had enough, for their wellbeing and yours.


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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