• In the case of Everett v Comojo UK Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 13, the owner of a nightclub owed a duty of care to third parties, but this duty had not been breached where another guest had stabbed the claimants

Facts of the Case

  • As (the appellants) were guests at a nightclub; the nightclub had CCTV in operation and security
  • Another guest of the same nightclub, a man named Cecil Croasdaile, injured As
  • Cecil Croasdaile got annoyed by one of As’ conduct of tapping a waitress on the bottom; Croasdale had warned the waitress that As would apologise to her by the end of the night
  • Croasdaile was convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and received a life imprisonment sentence
  • As sued the nightclub’s management company on the ground that it had failed to take appropriate action to protect its guests

Issues in Everett v Comojo UK Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 13

  • Did the sole management of the night club establish a duty of care for the actions of third parties?

Held by the Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

  • Appeal dismissed – there was a duty on the management of a night club in respect of the actions of third parties on the premises, which was found to be fair, just and reasonable so as to impose that duty of care

Smith LJ

Richards LJ and Rix LJ agreed with Smith LJ’s stance that the appeal ought to be dismissed

  • ‘I consider that the relationship between the management of a night club and its guests is of sufficient proximity to justify the existence of a duty of care. The management is in control of the premises. It can regulate who enters, who is refused entry and who is to be removed after entry. […] Further, the management of the night club is in business and wants the guest to come to spend his money; there is an economic relationship between the two. In my judgment, those factors demonstrate sufficient proximity.’ [at paragraph 31]
  • ‘But it does not seem to me that, given its own risk assessment, Comojo could seriously argue that the risk of such assault was so low that it could safely be ignored.’ [at paragraph 32]
  • ‘In my view, it is fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on the management of a night club in respect of injuries caused by a third party, provided that the scope of the duty is appropriately set. The factors already mentioned are relevant – control, the economic relationship and the (highly variable but existing) foreseeability of violence. But also in this context, I regard it as relevant that the relationship between the parties already carries with it an established duty, under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957, in relation to the condition of the premises.’ [at paragraph 33]