Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pub has to pay a fine for murder from 1664 - and how it relates to smoking

The Times Online reports A PUB must pay a fine for a murder on its premises more than 300 years ago.

Auditors discovered the long-forgotten penalty for The Swan in Ipswich, Suffolk, while balancing the books for the town’s St Mary Le Tower Church Charities.

The annual bill of 40 shillings, equivalent to £2, seems to be a punishment for a killing in 1664 when Charles II was king.
It was a huge amount of money in 1664 — a labourer would have to work for six months to earn 40 shillings.
Whenever we discuss smoker's rights the topic of bans on smoking in restaurants always comes up.

One side argues that private property rights should permit the restaurant owner to allow smoking if he chooses.

The other side usually focuses on the risk posed by second hand smoke.

I thought the case above was interesting because it showed a tavern owner being legally responsible for the safety of the patrons of a pub open to the public -what we would call today a place of public accommodation. That's basically like modern laws - They made the pub responsible for the safety of their customers.

Although as a person who favors small government, I can't say I'm happy about looking for old claims through history and making descendants pay up - we already have too many lawsuits.

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