Business owners are legally allowed to set their own condition of entry as long as the conditions in place aim to protect themselves, their employees and other people on their property.

In Victoria we’ve recently seen push back against stores such as Bunnings asking customers to wear a mask, when the business has deemed it a condition of entry. It is now also a requirement by law in Victoria to wear a mask.

Although not a requirement in Queensland currently, we thought it would be perfect timing to set the record straight on acceptable conditions of entry.

Conditions of entry is governed by Australian Consumer Law and protects consumers and small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contract. When you enter a premise, you are basically entering into a contract.

What does the law say?

Australian law says that private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property.

Places such as offices, shops and even larger premises such as Bunning are considered to be private property.

This means that whether it’s a mask, or closed in footwear at a nightclub, no filming at a music concert, or a bag check when leaving, business owners can set the rules.

MBA Lawyers business law expert Matt Windle says however, the conditions of entry cannot provide a defense for any acts of negligence from the business. For example, in today’s COVID-19 world, a business could be liable for not adhering to COVID guidelines.  

“This raises the question that should a customer contract COVID-19, could the business be liable for not adhering to the guideline,” Matt says.

“We think it’s possible, and even likely, that they could be liable as it was reasonably foreseeable that not complying could heighten the risk of contraction by following the government guidelines and protocols.”

What can condition of entry include?

Examples of typical conditions of entry include:

  • Consenting to bag searches as a customer leaves a store
  • Excluding any responsibility for any valuables stolen from cars in a car park
  • Banning the filming or recording of a performance on your mobile phone at a music concert
  • Not brining alcohol on a premise or certain items
  • Persons under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at certain events
  • Customers enter at their own risk

What are unfair conditions of entry?

Unfair conditions of entry under Australian Consumer Law, are conditions that include terms that are:

  • One-sided and greatly favours the business over the consumer
  • Have no satisfactory commercial reason why the business needs such a term
  • Cause the consumer to suffer financial loss, inconvenience, or other disadvantage if the term is enforced

For example, it would be unfair for a music concert to confiscate your phone or video camera for a time without the need to return it to you.

Are Conditions of Entry Enforceable?

When you enter a premise, you are basically entering into a contract.

Businesses should display their conditions of entry in an obvious position so that it can be seen upon entry. And you must let customers know about the conditions before entering.

Conditions of entry are only binding if you can prove people had the chance to read and accept the terms before entering.

If a person breaches any conditions of entry, you have the right to eject them from the premises.

Have you thought about reviewing your Conditions of Entry or your business’ Terms and Conditions lately? Contact our Business Law specialist Matt Windle for a legal ‘health check’ today on matthew@mba-lawyers.com.au or call (07) 5539 9688