What pubs needs to know about travellers and the Equality Act

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Discrimination: know the rules on who you can and can't let it (credit: iunderhill/iStock/thinkstock.co.uk)
Discrimination: know the rules on who you can and can't let it (credit: iunderhill/iStock/thinkstock.co.uk)

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Do you know who you can and can't let into your pub? As another case of discrimination where a landlady refused to serve an Irish traveller hit the headlines, here's what you need to know.

It has been reported this week that the landlady of a Bristol pub has been ordered to pay an Irish traveller £1,500 in damages after admitting she refused to serve him because of his background. 

The traveller took the case to Bristol Civil Court, which ruled in his favour.

Similarly, another recent case was last year, when JD Wetherspoon dropped its appeal against a court ruling,​ which found the company guilty of direct discrimination in eight of 18 claims brought against it by a group of travellers who were refused entry to the Coronet in north London.

The pub giant agreed to pay an out-of-court settlement of £44,000.

Have an admissions policy

On the subject of discrimination, Andy Grimsey, partner at law firm Poppleston Allen, said: "Licensees have a right to refuse entry to members of the public, so long as that refusal isn’t unlawful, particularly under discrimination law.

"A refusal based upon protected characteristics such as race – which Irish travellers and Romany gypsies are protected in this way – as well as sex, age and disability for example, would be unlawful.

"However, if the actual reason someone is barred is because they are a known troublemaker with a history of violence then that refusal would be lawful, but it is advisable firstly to have an admissions policy that explains who can and can’t come in, and secondly to note the specific reasons for any refusal in a refusals log.

"Staff should also be trained about the Equality Act 2010 as well as your own specific policies."

Characteristics protected 

Previous advice​ from the law company states that publicans have the right to refuse entry provided the reason is not unlawful. Other characteristics protected in the Equality Act 2010 include sexual orientation, religion or belief, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.

The key point is that licensees have an unrestricted right to exclude anyone, particularly those they see as troublemakers, provided that no refusal breaches equality law.

Related topics Licensing law

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