Nightclub accident between law firm employees not work-related

Partying after firm-sponsored dinner was employees’ choice and not in the course of employment: Court
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/03/2013

An injury that occurred at a nightclub when a law firm associate fell on a law student following a firm-sponsored dinner was not related to their employment, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled.

Jeremy Poole was a senior associate with Vancouver law firm Alexander Holburn Beaudin and Lang. The firm sponsored a dinner out for associates and law students a few times each year, in order to encourage communication with members of the firm. It also allowed the firm to assess who had a certain type of social energy that could come in useful in the firm’s marketing of its legal services. The dinner was organized by associates and was only for them and the law students – no partners allowed.

On April 5, 2001, the firm held a dinner out attended by about 20 associates and students from the firm. The dinner ended around 10:30 p.m., but several attendees decided to continue partying at a nearby club for which their server had given them passes. It was common practice for several people to go out somewhere after the dinner, though this wasn’t an official part of the evening. The firm paid for dinner and drinks at the restaurant and a few drinks at the club, but most people paid for their own drinks at the afterparty.