Australia: The duty of licensed premises to evict aggressive patrons

Last Updated: 24 April 2012
Article by Raphael Perla

Cregan Management Pty Ltd v Hadaway [2011] NSWCA 338

In this case, the New South Wales Court of Appeal held that the failure to evict aggressive patrons did not constitute a breach of a licensed premises' duty of care.


Mr Hadaway and Mr Robinson were patrons of the Park Beach Hoey Moey Hotel. There was a history of bad blood between them. Both Hadaway and Robinson were known to the staff of the hotel and to the security guards.

Whilst attending the hotel, Hadaway and Robinson engaged in a verbal and physical altercation. Hadaway and Robinson were separated by bar staff and then went to separate areas of the hotel.

Later on the same night Hadaway and Robinson engaged in a second verbal altercation, which was quelled by both bar staff and security guards. During the second altercation, Robinson stated to Hadaway, 'I'm going to get you... come outside, I'll kill you'.

After the second altercation, Hadaway and Robinson remained in separate areas of the hotel for about four hours until Hadaway left the hotel.

Hadaway was assaulted by Robinson approximately 200 metres from the hotel and suffered serious injury. Hadaway brought proceedings against Robinson, the Hotel and its manager, Mr Archibald, and the security company.

District Court decision

The trial judge accepted evidence that Hadaway was ejected from the hotel at 9.30pm, and considered that the duty of care owed by the Cregan Hotel to Hadaway extended to taking reasonable care the ensure that when Hadaway was involuntarily ejected from the hotel his safety would be given reasonable consideration.

Therefore, it was held necessary for the Cregan Hotel to ensure that Hadaway was well clear of the hotel before Robinson left and that, in failing to do so, the Cregan Hotel failed to take due care for Hadaway's safety.

NSW Court of Appeal decision

The NSW Court of Appeal found that Hadaway had not been ejected from the hotel prior to the assault, but in fact had voluntarily left the hotel. Thus, the Cregan Hotel's liability could not stem from the reasons relied upon by the trial judge.

At trial, Hadaway had submitted that in the exercise of reasonable care for his safety, the Cregan Hotel should have ejected Robinson at the time of the second confrontation, or alternatively, ejected both Hadaway and Robinson in a controlled manner whereby they would not be left together outside the hotel.

The court considered the evidence of Mr Jennings, a security consultant, who stated that although separating Hadaway and Robinson after the first confrontation was acceptable industry practice, allowing Robinson to remain after the second confrontation was not acceptable due to the risk of conflict reoccurring within the hotel.

It was accepted that, pursuant to the decision in Adeels Palace Pty Ltd v Moubarak, the Cregan Hotel owed Hadaway a duty to take reasonable care to prevent injury from the violent, quarrelsome or disorderly conduct of other patrons.

The court considered there was a foreseeable risk of harm to Hadaway at the hands of Robinson in another confrontation at the hotel, which could not be said to be insignificant. However, when considering the reasonableness of allowing Robinson and Hadaway to remain, Giles JA emphasised that what is reasonable depended on the individual circumstances.

The court accepted that it was a reasonable response to the first confrontation to separate Hadaway and Robinson within the hotel. It was considered that the occurrence of the second confrontation could cast doubt on the efficacy of the separation, but did not exclude that course of action.

When considering the reasonableness of the Cregan Hotel's response, importance was placed on Robinson's request to go outside and to be thrown out. The court considered it was implicit in this statement that Robinson was not likely harm to Hadaway while they were in the hotel.

The court also took into account that, whilst the ejection of a disruptive patron is permissible, hotel patrons are entitled in general to take advantage of the hotel facilities, and that over ready ejection infringes this right.

The court concluded that it was not established that the Cregan Hotel was in breach of its duty to Hadaway in failing to eject Robinson, or Hadaway and Robinson, at the time of the second confrontation. As there was no continuing duty of the Cregan Hotel to monitor the behaviour of Hadaway and Robinson in order to ensure that protection was provided for Robinson on leaving the hotel, the Cregan Hotel had not acted negligently.


A licensed premises' duty to protect patrons will be limited to taking reasonable care in the circumstances. What is considered 'reasonable' will turn on the facts, and a stereotypical approach to reasonableness cannot be applied. However, there is no prima facie duty of a licensed premises to evict an aggressive patron. This is consistent with the principles in cases such as Rooty Hill RSL Club Ltd v Karimi and Portelli v Tabriska Pty Ltd, both of which concerned similar facts to those in Cregan Hotel Management.

It is worth noting that Basten JA considered that Hadaway may have been able to succeed against the Cregan Hotel (based on the principles accepted in Karimi and Portelli) if he had been able to establish that:

  • Responsible staff in the hotel knew, or ought to have known, at the time that he left that there was a real risk of him being pursued and attacked by Robinson
  • Staff were aware that Hadaway had left the premises when he did
  • Staff were aware that Robinson knew, or was in a position to know, when Hadaway left the premises.

Thus, it appears that a court will be more concerned about a licensed premises' knowledge of the risk to a patron, as opposed to its actions in evicting aggressive patrons (or otherwise), when considering whether a licensed premises has acted reasonably to protect patrons from the actions of other patrons.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.