Social Hosts' Responsibility for Their Intoxicated Guests: Where Courts Fear to Tread
Torts Law Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 62-86, 2007
26 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2007
The recent Supreme Court of Canada case, Childs v. Desormeaux, provides a valuable opportunity to reassess the High Court of Australia's position regarding the liability of commercial hosts for the injurious conduct of their intoxicated clientele, as well as the likely Australian approach to social host liability. In Canada, while commercial hosts owe a duty of care to their impaired patrons, social hosts ordinarily do not. In Australia, courts would be reluctant to impose a duty on either type of host. Moreover, the trend in Australia away from imposing liability in tort makes social hosts just one more example of potential tortfeasors with little incentive to engage in responsible conduct, thereby threatening public safety. Difficulties with the potential use of Australian tort law as a deterrent are highlighted by the High Court's likely response to an innocent passenger like Zoe Childs, rendered a paraplegic at 18 years of age by a partygoer's drunk driving.
Keywords: host, social, intoxicated, guest, responsibility
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation