Conditions of Entry: An Explainer
Conditions of entry are rules businesses set for customers entering their premises. Find out what you can include here.
You may be curious about Conditions of Entry are actually legally enforceable – or if they’re just intimidating signs put out by business owners. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about conditions of entry and what you can and can’t have on them.
What is the law?
Australian law recognises businesses as private property. As a result, businesses can take reasonable steps to protect themselves. With regard to conditions of entry, this commonly looks like:
- Preventing photography at an entertainment venue
- Forbidding the consumption of food and drink
- Excluding responsibility for lost or stolen items
More recently, an increasing number of businesses have been mandating masks and temperature checks upon entry. This would fit under the definition of ‘reasonable steps to protect’ as COVID can be a work health and safety consideration for employees.
Furthermore, bag check conditions can often be common. Be sure to check out Fair Trading guidelines as bag checks run into very specific rules. However, as a helpful summary:
- Store personnel can only look inside a bag and cannot touch the contents instead. However, they can ask the customer to personally remove items so they can have a better look.
- Small handbags (smaller than the size of an A4 paper) should not be checked unless you are sure there is something from the store within them.
- You can only detain a customer and call the police where an offence has been committed.
Are they enforceable?
As a general rule of thumb, entry conditions are contractual obligations. Customers consent to the contract by reading the sign and entering the premises. Importantly, be sure to leave your sign stating your conditions in a very clear place. This will prevent arbitration over the visibility of your conditions.
What are Unfair Conditions of Entry?
Australian Consumer Law stipulates certain conditions of entry as unfair:
One-Sided Conditions of Entry Which Greatly Favour the Business Over the Consumer
A condition of entry at a all-you-can eat buffet that you could only eat for a maximum of 5 minutes would probably disproportionately favour the business. Therefore, that kind of condition would be unfair.
Conditions of Entry Which Have No Satisfactory Commercial Reason
A cafe would not be able to have a condition that permitted only a certain type of clothing to be worn if it wasn’t tied to how their business operated.
Conditions Which Cause Financial Loss, Inconvenience, or Other Disadvantage if the Term Is Enforced
A business cannot confiscate an item (such as a camera) and then refuse to return it to you after you leave the premises.
What if someone breaches the conditions?
If someone breaches the terms of conditions you are within your rights as a business to ask them to leave.
Businesses have a right to enforce conditions of entry. However, they need to be reasonable and not an unfair term as defined by consumer law. You can set conditions of entry similar to the common ones above. However, if you need to set novel conditions of entry, or are unsure if they are unfair, speak to a lawyer for clarification.