Trespass Practice

“Can’t I Just Kick Them Out Of The Store?”

This is one of the most common questions from an independent retailer.

And the answer is…

…it depends.

Every province has some kind of a trespass law. The provisions are similar but they do have some subtle differences that are important to note when designing your corporate policy. In Quebec for example, a business is very restricted as to what they can do (a Judge usually triggers the trespass notice), whereas Alberta is very supportive of business owners and allows you to determine the length of the restriction.

I will always indicate at this point that I am not a lawyer and advise to seek your own independent counsel for legal advice. What I can give you is some sense of operating practices that exist, and how to keep yourself from harm’s way.

The Bottom Line is this; In areas where you can trespass a customer, you need to be able to state the reason why you are taking the decision. Do not randomly restrict, and do not restrict based on protected classes. The action of the individual is what you can hang your hat on, so be clear, and be specific about why you do not want somebody in your store.

In terms of the time limit, I would suggest you keep the terms “reasonable”. Don’t trespass somebody for the rest of their lives, it is simply not reasonable.

Remember this – TWINS EXIST.

If you are confronting a person who has been trespass, do not assume they are the same individual, ask them first.

When designing your policy, it should be by province, and it should include a hard copy notification template to be completed with name, date, incident description and period of time for the restriction. If you are verbally trespassing somebody, assume that it is for a 24 hour period to keep yourself safe from accusations of defamation, or discrimination.

Short but sweet, just remember the bottom line. You have a right to protect your business and assets. Trespass laws are there for you – use them when you need them – but use them sparingly and with caution.

You will find links to the provincial trespass laws in the tool section of my website.

Hello, I'm Stephen O'Keefe. The information you read here is intended to help businesses answer some of the tough questions about everyday events in the retail environment. After spending over 3 decades in this industry we've seen a lot!
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Stephen O'Keefe

About Stephen O'Keefe

As an independent consultant I leverage my experience and knowledge to help a number of companies achieve results. Clients range from non-retailers looking for guidance to serve their retail customer, to retailers looking for quick solutions to unique and costly problems, right to the Industry Association. Bottom line Matters!

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