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  • Writer's picturePeter Gaggi and Aodhan Murphy

What to do if you've been injured during a night out?

News reports of bouncers in Halifax resorting to violence are becoming increasingly common. While this is a longstanding problem – and one our firm has dealt with in the past – many are unaware of their legal rights when hurt after a night out.

Nova Scotia does not directly regulate the conduct of bouncers. While the Private Investigators and Private Guards Act requires private investigators and private guards who contract out to bars and restaurants to apply for licenses, section 3(g) of the Act exempts bouncers hired directly by the establishment.

Whether a bouncer is trained or qualified in the Province of Nova Scotia can be left entirely up to the bar owner or management. This can cause obvious problems, not the least of which are overzealous or violent security.

Those injured by a bouncer have several legal rights available to them, including actions in assault, battery, and negligence.

Assault and Battery

In Mann v Balaban [1969] SCJ No. 69, the Supreme Court of Canada held that in an action for the tort of battery, the plaintiff must prove that they were battered and sustained an injury. At this point, the defendant must prove that the battery was justified, and even if justified, not made with any unreasonable force.

Whether a bouncer used unreasonable force against you depends on the circumstances, including their size versus your own, or anything that caused them to believe that force was necessary, and whether that belief was reasonable.

Given the size and weight of most bouncers hired by bar owners, it is safe to say that unreasonable force is routine.

If you are successful in any action against a bouncer in assault and battery, the bouncer's employer could be held vicariously liable for their employee's actions against you.


Bar owners and operators may also be directly liable for your injuries.

Guests at a bar or tavern are owed a duty of care at common law and by way of the Nova Scotia Occupier's Liability Act. Owners and operators of these establishments must operate and supervise the bar such that their guests can be afforded a reasonable level of protection. If their employees initiate or participate in assaults that otherwise could have been prevented, they will be held liable.

If you have been injured during a night out…

If you have been assaulted and injured by a bouncer during a night out, you have a claim to damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, any loss of income, and the cost of your care, among others.

The Mike Murphy Law Group has a long history of taking on overzealous security guards. If you or someone you know has been injured, contact our team.

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