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Compensation claim for Bouncers Failure to Anticipate and Prevent Violence


Violence in pubs, clubs and hotels is becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia.

Compensation claims being made by victims of violence in licensed premises is also on the up.

Compensation claims where security guards have used excessive force resulting in the injury and/or death of a patron have been well documented in recent years. In attempting to diffuse and control potentially violent situations, it has often been the bouncers themselves who have caused patrons to suffer injury.

There have also been compensation claims awarded to victims injured by other patrons in circumstances where the security guards were incompetent and/or negligent in dealing with a violent or dangerous situation.
 
The NSW Supreme Court recently decided the matter of Orcher v Bowcliff Pty Ltd [2012] NSWSC 1088, where the injured claimant was awarded almost $1.4 million after being king hit by another patron out the front of a licensed premises.

Orcher v Bowcliff Pty Ltd
 
At 4.50 am on 25 November 2007, claimant John Orcher was king hit by Tamiano Paseka outside of the Rozelle Bridge Hotel. As a result of the punch, Orcher fell backwards and hit his head on a footpath, suffering a serious brain injury.
Security guards employed by the hotel watched the incident unfold between the patrons from the front of the hotel but failed to act in any way to prevent the incident from escalating in the first place.

In his judgement, Justice Harrison of the NSW Supreme Court found that the security guards have a duty to anticipate and prevent violence. He noted that the incident slowly unfolded before the very eyes of onlooking security guards and considered that it was a breach of (their) duty to do nothing at all.
Justice Harrison explained that the bouncers were aware that the potential for violence between the patrons was escalating for a period of two and a half minutes before the assault occurred – during which the bouncers failed to intervene in any way.
The claimant was awarded $1.4 million dollars in compensation for injuries suffered.

Summary

The decision of the NSW Supreme Court proffers stern warning to licensed premises and security companies that their staff must be trained and competent in both anticipating and preventing violent situations at their premises. Further, it maintains that security guards may be required to act even in circumstances where the violence takes place outside of the relevant premises.

The decision may yet be appealed.

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