Saturday 21 September 2019

Amy Molloy: 'We have a duty to take some responsibility for ourselves'

Nightclub owners are finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance in Ireland and are having to look across the water to get cover. (stock photo)
Nightclub owners are finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance in Ireland and are having to look across the water to get cover. (stock photo)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

My friends and I were out for drinks over Christmas when we started discussing a couple of personal injury cases reported in the news.

Two people brought separate claims against a well-known pub and nightclub the previous week.

They each received substantial awards, which prompted us to talk about drunken incidents from our younger years - and whether we possibly could have brought a claim.

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There was belly laughter as we recalled some of our less than glamorous moments, but the general consensus was the level of contributory negligence was far too high on all our parts.

We hadn't been on a night out together in months and questioned why that was. Conflicting work schedules played a part.

But we also bemoaned how expensive it is to go out in Dublin now.

From speaking to various pub and club owners this week, I now see there is a direct correlation between us giving out about drink prices and hypothetically considering times we could have claimed against bars for drunken falls.

Nightclub owners are finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance in Ireland and are having to look across the water to get cover.

Nichola Crotty, manager with Crotty Group Insurance, said "due to the increased claims culture... premiums have been increasing year-on-year because of the unwillingness to insure".

Ireland is a country renowned for its drink culture.

It hasn't always been a positive association, but a large number of tourists travel here each year in search of the famous "craic".

Those working in the nightlife industry now fear there won't be much craic to be had.

Some are moving to the food industry, others are redesigning their business models to make it less risky.

Dance floors are seen as a liability, boxing machines are a no-go after one Dublin bar had to pay out when a customer injured their hand, and new venues are trying to avoid having stairs.

I went undercover at a solicitor's firm last year and told them I slipped in a club after eight drinks and walked across a wet floor - despite there being a wet floor sign.

I asked them if I had a case.

"Pubs and clubs are bringing you in and charging you for drinks, so on their back be it," was the response.

Venues need to take responsibility for their customers, but we also have a duty to take responsibility for ourselves. Otherwise, what chance does the nightlife scene have of surviving?

We're in danger of losing a big part of our culture. Those who are more health conscious might view that as a good thing, but I for one think it's sad that it's got to the stage where we might not be able to dance in a bar for fear we might fall and claim.

Irish Independent

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