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    2020 – A very different Christmas

    Generally, around this time of year we would be putting together our recommendations of Do’s and Don’ts with respect to office Christmas parties, and social gatherings with clients.

    COVID-19 and the fun police have changed all that and we suspect that this year very few businesses will be planning to host the annual staff or client Christmas party – at least not on the scale of past soirees.

    However, to assume that there will be no Christmas gatherings of staff or clients or end of school social gatherings is stretching a long bow. Quite possibly, some small business owners or parents may decide to use the family home to host their Christmas or social event.
    This led us to ponder upon what might be the legal rules of engagement pertaining to a home hosted event particularly in circumstances where the consumption of alcohol will be served.
    Recent case law on this subject suggests that should you decide to host a social event at your home you can take some comfort from the fact that: –

    1. There is no category of “social host” currently recognised under Australian law that would render an occupier liable for the criminal acts of a third party on their premises;
    2. The standard of care expected by the court is generally a lower one than would be expected of a commercial hotel; nightclub or commercial function venue;
    3. You are not responsible to maintain a constant vigil over your guests;
    4. You are not obliged to bubble wrap your premises or clear the backyard of potentially hazardous objects.

    However, if you are considering hosting a work related function do remember that under employment law it most likely will be considered an extension of the work environment and therefore the usual rules and regulations relating to harassment, duty of care; workers compensation and vicarious liability towards your employees will still apply.

    The bottom line is that you should always approach the hosting of any social event with all due care and consideration of your guests in order to prevent any foreseeable risk of injury.



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