firm news

Helen Goss
Helen Goss,
Tis the season to be jolly
06 December 2016

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly’ - it’s the season when the army of work Christmas socials bundle in to your establishments, eager to drink, eat, party and generally have a merry time.

Are you ready for it?

Yes in all likelihood. But, whilst Christmas events are not really different to other events you host, there can be many happening at one time or within a short space of time and we all know they have a tendency to get a little ‘wilder’ than your usual set of hospitality events.

We are not telling you how to host, rather this brief is to warn you of the extra risks Christmas events bring and to remind you how you can protect your business.

Key Prep Steps

Dealing with drunken behaviour/drug activities

  • There could be occasions where your guests drink too much and become abusive (to each other or to your staff) or cause damage to your premises. In these instances, you are completely within your rights to remove individuals from your premises or contact the police if you think any criminal activity is taking place.
  •  A word of warning when it comes to property damage; ensure you are acting reasonably and fully consider all the facts before taking action. This week we heard in the press about a case involving a disabled man bringing a discrimination claim against a hotel who asked him to stop using his wheelchair on the dance-floor as they claimed it was making marks and damaging the floor.  We will be sure to keep you posted of the outcome once it has been to trial next year.

Health and Safety

  • Risk assessments and other health and safety measures you will be au fait with- at Christmas socials, there is a greater potential for accidents to occur when people have been drinking heavily. Making sure you’ve done all the health and safety assessments required protects you in the event a guest suffers an accident and brings a claim against you.


  • This is arguably the riskiest area given what happened in 1996 with the case of Burton and Rhule v De Vere Hotels. An old case but still relevant, here, the hotel engaged Bernard Manning to speak at dinner and ended up being sued by waitresses who claimed he had discriminated against them in his jokes. Although the House of Lords have since ruled that the hotel should not have been held liable for harassment, it still begs the question of what can you do to ensure entertainment is not offensive to your staff.  If you are providing entertainment, make sure you know what it entails and have seen the act in full. If the client is bringing their own entertainment, make sure you know as much as possible about what that entails. Try looking on Google if unsure. You need to get an accurate view of what it involves and check it for any swearing or inappropriate or offensive content beforehand.

Terms and Conditions

  • If you haven’t done so already consider including some provisions dealing with the above into your contracts or terms which clients sign up to. This will ensure you both understand your obligations. The client may also request that clause if you are providing the entertainment.

No doubt you will have most of this covered already, but make sure the message is communicated down the chain to employees at all levels to avoid any misunderstandings and above all, plan ahead properly.

For more information about the issues in this article or to find out more about how the Leisure and Hospitality sector can help you please contact the team on 0118 952 7711 or email leisure&[email protected].

Merry Christmas!

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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