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Monday, 9 December

Court to Sit on Toilet Ruling

The Court of Appeal (rather than the Privy Council) is now expected to sit in an argument about the provision of toilets in predominantly take-away outlets.

Hull City Council took Greggs (the high street bread and sandwich outlet) to the High Court for failing to provide toilet facilities for customers and won. The City's legal team had argued that previous judgements in favour of Greggs in other parts of the country were wrong - and Mr Justice Kerr agreed.

Now it looks as if the Government will step in and have the case referred as the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills via its Better Regulation Delivery Office had sanctioned the argument that where simple takeaway food is being sold and some limited seating is provided, the outlet need not make toilet facilities available as that seating is not a normal use of the premises.

However, the argument coming from Hull remains that such an interpretation gives Greggs and other such outlets an unfair and unlawful commercial advantage.

Mr Justice Kerr who sided with Hull was not swayed by the Better Regulation Delivery Office's advice and said: "It is obvious that if a person sits down in a Greggs' outlet at the seats provided and proceeds to eat a pasty and a fizzy drink just purchased at the counter for that purpose, that is a normal use of the premises. The fact that most customers take away their purchases, and those who stay do not normally stay long, does not change that.

"The construction which looks to the predominant type of trade - sit-down or takeaway - is obviously wrong. It would mean that a cafe with, say, 25 tables, which also does a roaring takeaway trade, doing more business for off-site than on-site consumption, could not be required to install toilets for those brave enough to sit down for a drink."

Picture: Greggs says its business is pretty well takeaway only so it should not have to provide toilet facilities

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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