Hong Kong University restaurant struggles with exclusivity clause, citing enforcement issues

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30th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) A restaurant operator at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) voiced concerns on Thursday over the contractual requirement to serve exclusively students and staff of the institution, citing the inability to demand proof of identity from customers. These remarks followed the release of a report by the city’s Audit Commission on Wednesday, which scrutinised the operations of the university and urged it to “strengthen guidance and regulation” for external facilities operating on its premises.

The operator, known as Chan, pointed out that this predicament is not exclusive to CUHK, suggesting that other local universities’ eateries likely face similar challenges.

Chan revealed during a radio interview that a significant percentage — approximately 20 to 30 per cent — of their clientele are non-university individuals. This proportion particularly surges when the university organises public events such as open days and graduation ceremonies.

According to Chan, stipulations in the contract with the university mandate exclusive service to students and staff, a rule which is communicated to customers through notices displayed within the establishment. However, enforcing this rule poses a challenge, since the restaurant has no authority to demand identity proof from patrons. A potential solution, Chan suggested, would involve the university deploying security personnel to verify individuals’ identities.

Adding to the complications, Chan noted the increasingly popular trend among students to order meals via takeaway platforms, which further muddies the waters of customer identity verification.