It is unlawful for a child under the age of 18 to be sold or be allowed to consume alcohol on licensed premises [Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (SA) s 110]. However there are no prohibitions on a minor drinking alcohol in a private residence.
Although it is not illegal for teenagers to consume alcohol at a party held at a private residence this does not mean that there are no further legal implications. If no parents or responsible adults are present then there can be long-reaching implications for any consequences that arise as a result of the teenagers’ alcohol consumption. For example, if there is an injury or property damage a lack of supervision will be a factor in establishing negligence.
Parents hosting a party for teenagers need to be aware of any insurance and legal implications of serving alcohol to teenagers. Currently the law in South Australia does not require parental consent for a child to be allowed alcohol in a private residence, but it is a sensible precaution to advise other parents that alcohol will be available at the party so they can make an informed decision about whether to let their child attend or what restrictions they wish to place on their attendance.
As with any person inviting others onto their property, a duty of care exists for the occupier (i.e. host) to take measures to avoid any reasonably foreseeable harm to those invited. With the popularity of social networking gatecrashing of teenage parties has become a new phenomenon and a duty of care can extend to trespassers under s 20(6) of the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA). Despite not being invited onto the premises, there may still be a duty of care if they are exposed to danger that was reasonably foreseeable and no action was taken by the occupier to avoid it. For this reason it is essential to have a plan in place to deal with emergencies.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.