HSH Senior Partner Adam Wagman recently spoke to Christine Van Geyn, host of the national broadcast television program Canadian Justice about the law of social host liability.
Adam appeared as a panelist on the show, and described the differences in the standards of responsibility between commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants and private parties hosted in a person’s home. He explained that Canadian courts have indicated that a social host is generally not held to the same legal standard, but that they could be found liable if they help to create a risky situation that leads to an injury. “The key is that the host is implicated in the creation of the risk and they have control over the risk.”
Adam also reminded viewers that, regardless of their legal obligations, all social hosts have a moral duty to keep their friends and guests safe. He noted that hosts should not hesitate to take action such as withholding an intoxicated person’s car keys or calling them a taxi, even if those conversations are difficult. “If you’re uncomfortable doing your best to make sure people are safe when they’re at your house or when they leave your house, maybe you should think twice about having people over.”
Commercial and Residential Host Liability – Canadian Justice, May 5, 2022