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Refusal of service, exclusions and bag-checks

In certain situations traders may be authorised to refuse service to a customer, exclude you from a premises or check your bag.

If you think that you’ve been unlawfully refused service, excluded from a premise or your bag has been checked without your agreement, you should get legal advice.


Can I be refused alcohol?

You may be refused alcohol if you are:

  • unduly intoxicated (ie drunk)
  • under 18.

Publicans, bottle shop owners or restaurants who sell or serve alcohol to someone who is unduly intoxicated (ie drunk) or under 18 may be charged with an offence under the Liquor Act 1992, or have a civil claim made against them if someone is injured or property is damaged.  

For more information about laws, regulations and your rights and responsibilities see—alcohol

Can I be refused spray paint?

It’s an offence for a shop or business to sell you harmful substances such as spray paint, glue or methylated spirits if they think you are going to ingest or inhale it.

It’s also illegal for them to sell spray paint to people under 18.

Can I be refused entry to a shop or business?

Shops and businesses have the right to refuse entry or ban any person from their premises.  They can refuse to serve a person as long as they don’t breach anti-discrimination laws.


Exclusions for association with a criminal organisation

You can be excluded from licensed premises for wearing clothing, jewellery or an accessory displaying the name of a criminal organisation.

This includes any item displaying:

  • the name of a criminal organisation
  • the club patch, insignia or logo of a criminal organisation or  
  • images, symbols, abbreviations or acronyms showing membership or association with a criminal organisation.

It’s also an offence for a licensee to knowingly allow a person who is wearing or carrying an item of clothing, jewellery or other accessories displaying the name or symbol of a criminal organisation to enter or remain on licensed premises. If they refuse to leave, reasonable force can be used to remove them.

If you’ve been excluded from a licensed premise or charged with an offence for wearing an item of clothing, jewellery or other accessories displaying the name or symbol of a criminal organisation, get legal advice.

Removal by a bouncer

Bouncers can only use reasonable force when removing people. It may be an offence for them to use excessive force and their employer may be liable for their actions. The police can be called if a drunk or difficult person refuses to leave.

Removal by a security guard

Security guards must be registered by the Office of Fair Trading. When carrying out their duties they may carry weapons and use reasonable force to protect people and property. They are allowed to ask people to leave premises on behalf of the owner and to use reasonable force to remove them. They don’t have police powers.

Bag checks

Bag inspections

Many shops and other public venues (such as sport or entertainment venues) have a policy of checking bags to stop shoplifting or for security measures.

When entering a shop or another public venue your entry may be conditional on making your bags available for inspection if asked. You shouldn’t enter if you don’t agree.

Shopkeepers and staff can ask to look inside your bags—but they must not touch you or any of your belongings during the bag check. You may be asked to show them what’s in your bag or move something to let them to see inside. 

You can refuse a bag inspection—but if you do—you may be asked to leave without being able buy goods or you may be refused re-entry. The police may be called if you’re suspected of shoplifting.

Shopkeepers and staff can’t forcibly search your bags or detain you during an inspection. If they use force you should speak to the manager or ask to call the police.

If you’ve been accused of shoplifting the shopkeeper may hold you until the police arrive. If you’ve been unlawfully held you may be able to take legal action against them. Get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you’ve been unlawfully held by a shopkeeper for suspected shoplifting
  • you’ve been injured by a bouncer or security guard using excessive force.

How to get legal advice

We may give legal advice about discrimination or if you've been charged with an offence

We don’t give legal advice about personal injuries, including injuries caused by bouncers, security guards, or injuries occurring on a trader's premises.

To get legal advice about these particular matters, contact the Queensland Law Society who can help you find a private lawyer.

Community legal centres may give free legal advice and help on a range of topics. Contact them for more information.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Dispute Resolution Centres provide mediation services to the community.

Office of Fair Trading has information about trader’s rights and obligations.

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