Refusal of service, exclusions and bag-checks
In some situations traders may be authorised to refuse service to a customer, exclude you from a premise 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, get legal advice.
Can I be refused alcohol?
You may be refused alcohol if you are unduly intoxicated (ie drunk) or under 18.
Publicans, bottle shop owners or restaurants selling or serving 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.
Find out more information about laws, regulations and your rights and responsibilities about alcohol.
Can I be refused spray paint?
It’s an offence under the Summary Offences Act 2005 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
A business can refuse you entry if there is a law in force that mandates the wearing of a face mask and you are not wearing a mask, unless you have a valid exemption.
You should check the current public health directions concerning the wearing of masks as these may change from time to time.
Exclusions for association with a criminal organisation
You can be excluded from licensed premises under the Liquor Act 1992 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 under the Summary Offences Act 2005 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. If they use force you should speak to the manager or ask to call the police.
Removal by a security guard
Security guards must be registered by the Office of Fair Trading. They may carry weapons and use reasonable force to protect people and property when carrying out their duties. They're allowed to ask people to leave a premise on the owners' behalf and to use reasonable force to remove them. They don’t have police powers.
Many shops and other public venues (such as sport or entertainment venues) have a bag check policy to stop shoplifting or for security.
When going into a shop or another public venue, entry may be conditional on making your bags available for inspection if asked. Don'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’re 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.
Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.
Last updated 21 November 2022
If you have a general question for Legal Aid Queensland, please use the general question form or call 1300 65 11 88, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.