Venue operators may be reviewing how they deal with intoxicated patrons after a court case found in favour of a patron. Legal firm, Barry Nilsson outlined the details of the case in a recent article, a summary of which is below.

The Background

A customer sustained various injuries when assaulted by a severely intoxicated person at a Bondi restaurant. The customer alleged that the venue operator and security services failed in their duty of care by not attempting to control or evict the intoxicated person.

In defence of the claim, the operator and security services alleged that the customer contributed to the assault by responding to the person’s provocative remarks by initiating physical contact.

The case went to trial.

Sad man sitting at bar counter, alcohol addiction.

The Trial Outcome

The court found in favour of the customer, finding that the venue operator and security services had breached their duty of care. The court reduced the compensation by 20% because the customer reacted to the intoxicated person’s taunts.

The court determined that the common law duty of care owed to a patron in a public bar extends beyond their duty to a customer. It includes the responsibility to control ‘violent, quarrelsome or disorderly conduct on licensed premises.’

The court were in no doubt that the venue operator and security services knew the person was highly intoxicated. They both failed to monitor, assess or take action to prevent the person’s misbehaviour from escalating.

The court found the level of security staff inadequate, so security guards could not intervene when required.

The court ordered the venue operator and security services to each pay 50% of the damages and costs payable to the customer.

The court also considered the impact of the incident on the customer’s income.

The court awarded the customer $200,706.40 in damages plus costs.

A closeup shot of a person holding a gavel on the table

Food for Thought:

The court case provides an excellent example of how the duty of care of licensed venues and their contracted security services extends to taking reasonable steps to control the sale of liquor and minimise harm, including from other patrons.

Read the full article on the Barry Nilsson knowledge hub. The original article is titled ‘a drunk man walks into a bar, is failing to evict him negligent or not?’.


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