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BOUNCED - the Legal Right of Bouncers

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

One Cambrian College faculty member has experienced first-hand being ‘bounced’ out of a bar when he went to pick up his son recently.

The faculty member, who asked that neither his name nor the name of the establishment be given, shares his version of the story.

The faculty member says he went to the bar around 2 a.m. after his son called him for a ride home. When the faculty member arrived, he says he discovered the establishment had lost his son’s coat. He waited in the car for several more minutes before his son sent him a text message asking him to come inside.

When he stepped into the bar, he says he saw his son and the owner arguing over adequate compensation, and approached them to listen.

After a few minutes, the bouncer walked up to the group and stood between the faculty member and his son. Not long after, the bouncer told the faculty member to leave.

He says he told the bouncer: “I’m just here to pick up my son. We’re going to sort this out with the owner, and then we’ll leave.”

The bouncer then told him to leave again. The faculty member says he “ignored” the bouncer the second time and asked the owner what the company policy was when they lose a coat.

After asking the question, he says the bouncer grabbed him, threw him to the floor, picked him up, went to the door and kicked it open, and threw him outside.

After he was removed, he called police. He says it took them 25 minutes to arrive, and when the police spoke to him, they basically said “the bouncer has the right to throw you out.”

Bouncers can remove patrons since they are working as an “agent” for the owner of the bar, according to Paul Denniston, coordinator of the Police Foundations program at Cambrian College.

“As soon as they’re (patrons) asked to leave, and they refuse to leave, they can be charged under the trespassing property act,” Denniston says. “It’s an offence.”

Under the Trespass to Property Act, if a bouncer tells a patron to leave but they refuse, Denniston says the bouncer can arrest the patron. However, the patron must be kept at the bar until the police arrive.

Another option available to bouncers is the Liquor Licence Act. With that act, Denniston says, the bouncer can remove any person they deem “undesirable.” He also says bouncers can refuse entry to any person for the same reason. In both cases, they are not required to justify their decision.

Denniston also says under Section 25 of the Criminal Code of Canada, people who are acting with “lawful authority,” including bouncers, are protected so long as their actions are “reasonable.” But in Section 26, if a person is found to have used excessive force, they will be criminally liable. However, to determine what is reasonable and what is excessive, the context of the situation must be looked at.

Denniston gives the example of a seven year-old-child punching an adult. He says the adult wouldn’t hit back because it wouldn’t be a reasonable response.

If a person feels they have been assaulted by anyone, he says, they can call the police.

He also says the amount of force a bouncer uses must be proportionate to the amount of resistance the patron uses.

In the Code of Conduct for the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, security personnel are required to “refrain from using profane, abusive, or insulting language or action or actions that are otherwise uncivil to any member of the public” and “refrain from exercising unnecessary force.”

“The use of force is based on discretion,” agrees Nana Kingsley, a first-year student in Practical Nursing at Cambrian who works part-time as a bouncer.

He also says the main job of being a bouncer is to “protect the establishment, myself and the patrons.”

Although it is not a big problem where he works, he says, when people get drunk and begin acting inappropriately, he may be approached with a complaint from another patron.

When he gets a complaint he will approach the offending patron and talks to them about their conduct. He also tells them that should there be further complains, or improper conduct, they will be removed for the night.

If the person is drunk, however, he says, “you don’t get a warning.”

But bouncers need to be careful how they treat patrons because “people get offended and people get extremely pissed” when they are removed, says Kingsley.

Sometimes, he says, when a drunk person has been removed, they “want to get (back) in at all costs.” But as a bouncer, it is his responsibility to keep them out of the bar.

Not anyone can be a bouncer. As of 2007, bouncers are required to have a licence. Under Bill 159, the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act, bouncers qualify as security guards.

In order to become licenced, Kingsley says the person must complete a 40-hour training course that covers first aid and CPR, as well as the use of force.

Once the prospective bouncer has completed the course, there is an exam, he says. If the person passes the exam, he or she can then apply for a licence.

Other conditions that must be met to get a licence according to Bill 159 include:

· The person possesses a clean criminal record; and

· In the case of an individual,

(i) the person is 18 years old or older,

(ii) the person is entitled to work in Canada, and

(iii) the person has successfully completed all prescribed training and testing.

Denniston says the licence looks similar to a driver’s licence. When a patron requests to see a bouncer’s licence, it must be provided.

The bill requires the licence be carried and available.

Any violations of the act generally should be reported, Denniston says; however, it must be filed with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services within 90 days of the incident.

From the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, it goes to the director of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act.

An example of a violation would be someone working as a bouncer without a licence. If a person is found to not have a licence, he or she can face a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to a year in jail. A company that hires an unlicenced a bouncer can face a $250,000 fine.

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