Serving It RightServing It Right

BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Implementing Responsible Beverage Service

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Other Safety Issues

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Forcible ejection
At times, an intoxicated guest will refuse to leave the premises. The guest may be angry or violent, and therefore the establishment must protect staff and other guests from potential harm. If force is to be used to eject a guest from the premises, care must be taken to ensure that only reasonable force is used. Any force that results in injury could leave both the server and the establishment open to legal action. Every licensed establishment should have a written policy on what to do in the case a guest refuses to leave. All such incidents should be written into the incident report logbook immediately after the incident has been resolved.

Steps for ejection should include:

  • Let the guest know that you have the authority to ask the guest to leave.
  • Ask in a clear, concise manner for the guest to leave.
  • Do not rush and let the guest take a few minutes.
  • If the guest still refuses to leave, it may be time to call police.

If the guest refuses to leave, or if the guest poses a danger to other guests or a staff member, then the licensee or staff may use such reasonable force as is necessary to remove the problematic guest from the premises. If you must use force to remove a guest, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not escalate the situation by antagonizing the guest.
  • Be calm and use a non-threatening tone of voice.
  • Do not hit or attempt to injure; hold the guest and walk them out.
  • Only do what is necessary to protect yourself and others if the guest is attacking you or other guests.
  • If there is any reason to suspect that patrons may become involved in violence or hostilities outside the establishment after they are ejected, ensure that the removals are staggered in time and carried out in different areas in order to minimize the risk of further or continuing violence.

Case Study: Importance of "Serving it Right"

The case: LaFace v. McWilliams (2005, B.C. Supreme Court)

The circumstances: A very intoxicated patron drove away from a pub and injured several people in a serious motor vehicle accident. A friend of the patron had warned the door attendant that the patron intended to drive but nothing was done to stop him. At trial, the owner gave evidence that all of the employees were required to be certified by the Serving It Right program and that the establishment had a zero tolerance policy for violations of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. The evidence revealed that there were numerous instances of violations and the Court concluded that although the employees were familiar with the Serving It Right manual, they did not enforce the program.

The decision: The licensee was held 50% liable for the injuries to the people injured by the intoxicated patron.

The lesson: Knowledge of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act and staff with Serving It Right certificates are not enough for a licensee and its employees to avoid liability. All staff should be familiar with the principles of responsible beverage service. What is most important is that there is a system in place - a house policy - so that these principles are implemented. This is the only way a licensee will be able to fulfill its duty and prevent harm coming to the public because of over-service of alcohol. The LaFace case demonstrates the importance of having professional and trained staff who implement a well thought- out house policy.