By Clyde Mooney, editor Australian Hotelier
A New South Wales hotel has successfully argued that it was right to allow a drunk patron to stay on the premises after he had been refused service.
In April 2012 the Cauliflower Hotel in Waterloo incurred a 'permit intoxication' charge for failing to evict a drunken patron that had been refused service but was allowed to stay with family and friends onsite, where management believed he would be safer than if he was expelled onto the street.
On March 6 at the Local Court, Magistrate Schurr heard the hotel had a detailed system for responsible service of alcohol that regularly cut patrons off, and had taken 'all reasonable steps'.
Police argued the hotel could not rely on the 'reasonable steps' defence as it allowed the patron to stay on the premises when he should have been expelled.
Magistrate Schurr allowed the defence and dismissed the charge against the hotel.
"The decision is significant because it shows that, in appropriate circumstances, it may be more reasonable to allow people to stay at the hotel, rather than put them out," said Tony Hatzis, director of Hatzis Cusack Lawyers, who appeared for the hotel licensee.
"In fact, it would be better if the legislation is re-written to expressly provide that the licensee has discretion as to whether or not to put out an intoxicated patron."
The Cauliflower owner Denis Hickey was pleased with the result.
"We did everything we could… I'm glad that common sense prevailed in the end," he said.