In this week’s instalment of citizen journalism, Mark Doyle, licensee of Lee’s Hotel in Ingham, Queensland, voices concern over a recent case in which a Tasmanian woman successfully sued a pub where her husband was drinking before he was killed in a single-vehicle collision.

“I sympathise with Mrs. Scott at her loss. However, as a publican I am very concerned about this ruling where we as small business operators need to provide a duty of care to our patrons well beyond the boundaries of our business.

At what point does it become the patrons’ responsibility for their own actions? I can’t think of any other business where the duty of care for customers extends beyond the doors of the business.
This ruling is wrong and has set a precedent that will be manipulated by the QC’s and Barristers in future. This case, albeit very sad, is only one step away from all hotels becoming non-viable due to the spiraling costs of insurance to cover this sort of case — if this is in fact covered by insurance anyway. This case may well open up a whole raft of law cases where people have died or been injured as a result of their own actions following the consumption of alcohol at a hotel.
Where does it stop and who is to blame? We as publicans could sue the manufacturers of the product we sell because of a lack of training in the supply of that product if proven that that product was the cause of the issue. I liken this to the supply of tobacco products where the manufacturers have been sued rather than the retailer. The legal issues that this whole thing raises are very precarious.   
I would like to know, if a hotel is compliant with the myriad of rules and regulations placed on it in by the various states legislation, then when does the duty of care by that hotel toward a patron finish?”

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The Shout Team

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