COVID-19 Update: Businesses, private landowners and tenants can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property. This includes making it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.

If you have ever been to a large event like a concert or soccer match, you may have noticed signposted notices in small fonts called conditions of entry. You may have seen similar signs at your local shops posted at the door as you walk in. If you are a retail business or organise events, you may need conditions of entry to protect your business. This article explains how ‘conditions of entry’ should operate for your business. 

What Do Conditions of Entry Include? 

Conditions of entry are a set of contract terms that a person accepts by entering your premises. Business owners normally display conditions of entry on a sign in situations where it would be impractical for the person to sign a contract.

For example, you run a business where clients, customers or spectators visit your premises, such as:

  • car parks;
  • live event venues;
  • night clubs; and
  • sports centres.

You will probably need conditions of entry that your customers must agree to before entering the premises.

What can Conditions of Entry Include?

Some examples of typical conditions include:

  • making the customer consent to their bag searches they leave a retail store;
  • excluding any responsibility for any valuables stolen from cars in a car park; and
  • banning the filming or recording of a performance on your mobile phone at a music concert. 

The unfair contract terms regime under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) will apply to conditions of entry. Conditions of entry should not contain 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; and
  • cause the consumer to suffer financial loss, inconvenience or other disadvantaged if the term is enforced.

For example, an unfair term in a conditions of entry is where stadiums can confiscate cameras for a time without the need to return them to the original owner or otherwise compensate for the confiscation of the camera. 

Your conditions of entry should be concise and only include terms that are necessary to protect your legitimate business interests. 

For example, if you are a concert organiser that wants to ban people from filming the concert, the term helps other people enjoy the concert and influences their decision to return and pay for more concerts. However, it would be an unfair term if you said you would confiscate any video cameras without telling the original owners.

Are Conditions of Entry Enforceable? 

As conditions of entry operate like a contract, the document should be able to apply to anyone who enters your premises. This is known as whether the contract is enforceable.

If you plan to display your conditions of entry on a sign, you should make those terms obvious to anyone who enters the premises. As a retail shop owner, you can put the sign near the door. If you are organising a sports event at a stadium, you can put the sign next to the ticket barriers to the stadium. Those positions allow people to read and consider them. Conditions of entry are only binding if you can prove people had the chance to read and accept the terms before entry.

How to Handle a Breach

If customers breach any of the conditions of entry, your main solution is to eject them from the premises.

For example, one of your conditions of entry to a nightclub is where partygoers must behave appropriately at all times without disrupting others. If you have a customer that is being disruptive at an music event at a nightclub, you would get a bouncer to remove them from the nightclub.

You usually cannot require a customer to pay compensation if they breach the terms of conditions. That is because of the one-sided nature of the conditions of entry. Enforcing financial penalties may look like an unfair contract term under the Australian Consumer Law.  However, if you can show you have suffered financially because of the customer’s breach of terms, you could claim compensation through legal action.

For example, the customer is so disruptive at the event that he becomes violent to other customers. The bad press and negative feedback from other customers means you get fewer customers over the next few weeks. You could consider taking legal action against the disruptive customer for the loss of income.

Key Takeaways

Conditions of Entry can be a useful tool for businesses that have certain requirements of customers entering their premises. However, you must ensure the conditions of entry are:

  • displayed properly on a sign;
  • have enforceable terms; and
  • necessary to protect your business.

Otherwise, your conditions of entry (or one of the conditions) may be an unfair term that falls foul of the ACL. If you have any questions or you need assistance on drafting your conditions of entry, get in touch with LegalVision’s contracts lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

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