Suppose that one is ordering from a restaurant that offers full portions for £11 or half-sized portions on a section of the menu designated as for kids for £6.

But suppose that one is over the designated age threshold, yet only has £7 in their account, or is simply not so hungry and doesn't want to be wasteful or carry home leftovers.

Is it lawful for the restaurant to make a section of their published menu unavailable to one simply because of their age?

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    I take it that you are assuming that the restaurant does not permit an adult to order fro the "child's menu" or a "child's dish"? Even if the adult speifically requests this? That isn't quite clear to me in the question. I will note that in my US experience, resturants will almost always agree to such a request, but one might not. Oct 22, 2022 at 16:58
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    Yes, apologies if it was not clear and in my experience many restaurants will allow an adult to order a child's portion, however, some as a matter of explicit policy do not. For example I ate at a restaurant this evening and attempted to order a child's portion and was told that it is against the policy. The kid's menu itself also stated: kids menu available for children aged 12 and under. Oct 22, 2022 at 19:35
  • So no, not assuming. Oct 22, 2022 at 19:39
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    In an effort to balance my necessarily brief, (read blunt) critiques of some of your questions, I wanted to let you know that I upvoted this one. If a restaurant is going to offer both large and small portions it would seem that the motives for customers choosing one over the other should be irrelevant. Whether physical size, budget, or appetite drives a decision, age - the single factor an individual has NO control over - really shouldn't matter. In fact there are laws against age discrimination, and I would like to see a good answer that considers this. Oct 23, 2022 at 18:32
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    I thought the relevant part of the Equality Act 2010 only applied to discrimination between people over 18. In which case there would be no discrimination so long as all people over 18 are refused items from the child's menu. However, I cannot find evidence for this.
    – Lag
    Oct 24, 2022 at 15:41

4 Answers 4


Yes it is lawful.

Article 4 of the Equality Act 2010 (Age Exceptions) Order 2012 amends Part 7 of Schedule 3 Equality Act 2010.

This allows organisations to offer age-related discounts, concessions or benefits. It is intended to ensure that 'special offers' such as cheap haircuts for pensioners or student railcards are lawful.

(Likewise the order makes an amendment to the Act that allows retailers of age-restricted products to continue to challenge customers on the basis of their ages.)

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    What does it mean that the linked page is labelled as a "draft" statutory instrument? Is that not the version that currently remains in effect? Oct 24, 2022 at 16:15
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    @JosephCorrectEnglishPronouns I inadvertently linked to the draft version and didn't notice. I have updated the link. legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2466/article/4/made
    – Lag
    Oct 24, 2022 at 16:58
  • Having read the order, it seems like it might not actually be applicable. I can see how it would apply to railcards or concessionary prices, or how it would apply to a scenario in which adults were allowed to order the children's meals at a higher price, or rather where children were allowed to order various items on the menu at a reduced concessionary price. But do you think it applies here where certain items of the menu are simply not sold to adults? Oct 24, 2022 at 17:35
  • From the linked 2012 order: "(2) The reference to a concession in respect of a service is a reference to a benefit, right or privilege having the effect that the manner in which the service is provided is, or the terms on which it is provided are, more favourable than the manner in which, or the terms on which, it is usually provided to the public (or, where it is provided to a section of the public, that section).”." (emphasis added) Oct 24, 2022 at 17:35

Is it lawful to offer smaller portions only to children below a certain age..?


Part 3 of the Equality Act 2010 covers "Services and Public Functions" and at section 29 states:

Provision of services, etc.

(1)A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.

This is the only definition of "service-provider" in the Act, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission confirms a restaurant falls with the scope of Part 3:

Equality law applies to any business that provides goods, facilities or services to members of the public.

This includes a wide range of different businesses and services. These include:


  • restaurants


  • However all that is moot (but posted here for context) as Part 3 of the Act opens with caveats at section 28 which establishes that:

(1)This Part does not apply to the protected characteristic of—

  • (a)age, so far as relating to persons who have not attained the age of 18;


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    Okay, but it is adults that have been discriminated against, as children under 12 are allowed to have adults' sized meals. It's not people under 18, thus, who are being discriminated against, but adults. Oct 23, 2022 at 20:05
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    I mean this would be applicable, it seems to me, if Bob was a 13 or 17 year old teen, but not if he's a 19+ year old adult. Oct 23, 2022 at 20:08
  • Is that not accurate? Oct 23, 2022 at 20:08

Is it lawful to offer smaller portions only to children below a certain age, by calling it a "children's menu"?

Your hypothetical that [at least] the sizes of portions are different implies that the goods at issue are not equivalent. That difference largely precludes a finding of unlawful discrimination.

Other scenarios where a restaurant enforces age limits involve additional "perks" that would be abused if enjoyed by an adult. A buffet at a lower price for kids is one example, given an adult's ability and likelihood to consume much more food than what a child would do.

Even if a plaintiff persuaded the court that the restaurant's policy is unlawfully discriminatory, damages would be limited to evidenced injury to feelings. See Bower v. Brewdog PLC, prs. 44-46. Devising other types of losses for the scenario you outline would prompt another stream of convoluted speculations. An adult's allegation that he felt humiliated for having to identify himself as child for the sake of getting a discount would sound more bizarre than the alleged humiliation in Bower about identifying himself as female in order to get a drink one pound cheaper.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Oct 22, 2022 at 19:20
  • So, their damages would be limited to the 4 Pound difference in prices between the child menu item and the adult menu item?
    – nick012000
    Oct 23, 2022 at 3:00
  • @nick012000 "their damages would be limited to the 4 Pound difference in prices between the child menu item and the adult menu item?" It is more than that. The Bower court at pars. 45, 49 granted an award of £1000 for "hav[ing] felt humiliated" plus court costs. See also par. 41, citing another case where "[t]he result was an award of damages of 3,000 for injury to feelings". Oct 23, 2022 at 11:17
  • @IñakiViggers I greatly enjoyed reading that case. May I ask where/how you had originally come upon it? Jan 15 at 22:39
  • Also, can anyone explain why the link in the answer body as well as the move to chart link in the comment thread seems to 404? Jan 15 at 22:40

Ontario's Human Rights Code says:

Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability


“age” means an age that is 18 years or more

In Garisto v. Toronto Transit Commission, 2016 HRTO 230, the applicant alleged that the Transit Commission's policy of allowing children 12 and under to travel for free discriminated against him on the basis of age, since he had to pay full fare. The tribunal said:

Section 10(1) of the Code states: “age” means an age that is 18 years or more.” On the basis of this definition, the applicant’s allegation about preferential treatment for children is not a matter the Tribunal can consider.

British Columbia's Human Rights Code has a similar prohibition on discrimination in services because of age, but in that Code,

"age" means an age of 19 years or more

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