Tag Archives: defamation

A refusal often offends

David Allen Green’s recent post on Common Carriage reminds me of an anecdote related to me when I was working in a pub.

Although in principle a publican can refuse to serve someone, there is an obligation to provide a good reason for doing so. It is also illegal to serve someone who is drunk. This leads to a quandary for the person behind the bar, because the classic symptoms of drunkenness, unsteady gait and slurred speech, may also be caused by a disability or illness. Falsely accusing someone of public drunkenness could well be defamatory.

Because their livelihoods depend on it, publicans make it their business to apprise themselves of the laws that affect them. The subject of the story certainly was aware enough to come up with an ingenious solution.

A pub landlord was working behind the bar when a middle-aged man staggered into the pub and, slurring his words, ordered a drink.

“I’m sorry sir, I’m afraid I’m unable to serve you.” said the landlord.

“Why not?” asked the man

“You’re underage.”