Before You Host a Party Read This: Social Host Liability and the Decision in Childs v. Desormeaux
University of British Columbia Law Review, Vol. 39, pp. 371-388, 2006
18 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2011
Date Written: 2006
Recent cases in Canada dealing with the legal liability of social hosts for the harm caused to third parties by their intoxicated guests have created an increasingly polemical public debate. In this Comment, the author argues that while the decision in Childs is supported by the particular facts of the case, the underlying reasoning is deeply problematic. First, the distinction the Court makes between commercial and social hosts is exaggerated, and that the differences that do exist should influence the standard of care required of social hosts rather than the existence of a duty. Second, the suggestion in Childs that social host liability will impose an inordinate burden on social hosts is simply not true. Finally, the assertion that social host liability will intrude on a guest's individual autonomy and personal choice, or diminish their individual responsibility, is deeply problematic. Such a claim invokes the decontextualized and individualized language of neo-liberalism to deal with an issue that government and non-government organizations alike treat as involving both individual and community responsibility.
Keywords: social host liability, hospitality, tort law
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