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Brothel licensees, managers and employed prostitutes are subject to various legal obligations in respect of the operation and health and safety of a brothel. Many of the operational offences under the Act confer joint and several liability upon the prostitute, together with the brothel licensee and manager. 

Staffing Limits

A brothel licensee may only provide prostitution from the premises named in the licence. All licensed brothels must be situated in a building. The brothel itself may contain no more that 5 working rooms.

A maximum of 10 staff may be at the brothel at any one time, and of these staff only 1 prostitute may be present in any room used for prostitution. It is an offence to contravene any of these rules, the maximum penalty for which is$15,000.00 or 5 years imprisonment.

Importantly, a brothel licensee or approved manager must be personally present to supervise the operation of the brothel at all times while the brothel is open for business. Infringement of the personal supervision rule can evoke a sanction of up to $4,500.00 or 6 months imprisonment. 

Associates of Licensees

Brothel licensees are prohibited from carrying on business in partnership or association with an unlicensed person and may only have an interest in one licensed brothel.

The term 'in association with' connotes that both persons are in direct receipt of income or profits from the brothel. Again, the maximum penalty for both offences stands at $15,000.00 or 5 years imprisonment. 

Prohibition on Liquor

It is also against the law for any person to possess, store, distribute or sell liquor from a licensed brothel. If liquor is found at a brothel, both the person found with the liquor and the licensee or approved manager commit an offence. In such circumstances all persons are subject to a maximum penalty of$3,000.00. 

Duties of the Prostitution Licensing Authority

Strict disclosure requirements bind licensees in relation to statements made and/or documents provided to the Prostitution Licensing Authority. If a brothel licensee makes a statement or provides a document, to the Authority, which is false or misleading, he or she commits an offence punishable by a fine of up to$7,500.00. 

Licence Display

A licensee must display the brothel licence in a conspicuous place inside the front entrance of the brothel, and/or produce it to the police upon request. To fail to do so is an offence, and may incur maximum fines of $7,500.00 and$750.00 respectively. 

Police Powers

The legislation also creates new police powers which provide for entry and inspection of brothels at any time, and without the need for a search warrant.If police exercise their power of entry, a brothel licensee/manager is obliged to give their name, address and age; produce all documents and things; and provide all reasonable assistance to the officers.

The licensee/manager's duty to provide identifying particulars extends to the age and identifying particulars of any person at the brothel whom the police suspect is a minor. A maximum fine of $1,500.00 may attach to non-compliance by a licensee or individual. 


Brothel licensees are specifically bound by the law of nuisance and duress in respect of the operation of their brothel. If, as a result of providing prostitution services at the brothel, another person or persons suffer unreasonable annoyance or disruption to their privacy, the licensee of the brothel commits an offence.

A first offence of nuisance connected with prostitution carries a maximum penalty of $1,125.00, with a second offence carrying a maximum penalty of$1,875.00. 

Intimidation of Prostitutes

It is also illegal for a person to make another person continue to provide prostitution by way of intimidation, harassment, false representation, pretence,fraudulent means, or threats of injury or damage. Any person found guilty of causing duress by these means may face a penalty of $15,000.00 or 7 years imprisonment. 

Health Issues

From a health and safety standpoint, prostitutes employed at licensed brothels are required to undergo regular health checks for sexually transmitted diseases.

The licensee has a concomitant duty not to allow a prostitute to work during any period in which they are infective with a sexually transmitted disease. In the event that a brothel licensee knowingly permits an infected prostitute to continue to work, the licensee commits an offence punishable by a maximum fine of $9,000.00.

In the same circumstances the infected prostitute is liable to a fine of$7,500.00. Moreover, any licensee or prostitute who induces clients to believe that the prostitute is not infective simply because they undergo regular medical examinations, commits an offence punishable by a maximum fine of $3,000.00.

It is illegal for a brothel licensee or manager to discourage the use of condoms or allow sexual intercourse or oral sex at the brothel without a condom.Both offences carry a maximum penalty of $9,000.00 respectively.

Any prostitute or client who provides or obtains prostitution involving sexual intercourse or oral sex without a condom commits an offence punishable by a fine of up to $7,500.00. It is also against the law for a client to misuse or damage a condom, or continue to use a condom which they know is damaged. The maximum penalty for the latter offence is $7,500.00. 


Strict guidelines apply to the advertising of prostitution under the Act. It is illegal for a licensee to publish an advertisement which describes the business as being connected with massage services or which contains statements that may induce persons to become prostitutes.

Both types of advertisements may incur a penalty of $3,000.00. Brothel advertisements must be in an approved form, not describe the prostitution services offered, and only be published in the print media. All these advertising offences involve a maximum penalty of $3,000.00. 


To be eligible to be considered for a brothel licence you must pay an application fee and a licence fee, and satisfy certain criteria prescribed in the Act. Certain persons are ineligible for a brothel licence. Corporations,insolvents, minors, liquor licensee's, 'unsuitable' persons and persons convicted of certain 'disqualifying' offences are among those prohibited from holding a licence.

The disqualifying offences include rape, corruption, abduction, kidnapping,money laundering, drug trafficking, demanding property by threat, prostitution offences and crimes against morality involving children and/or intellectually impaired persons.

Eligible persons must apply to the Prostitution Licensing Authority ('the Authority'), in the approved form, and pay a prescribed application fee and annual licence fee. At the time of writing, licence fees are yet to be set by regulation.

Currently, it is suggested that prospective licensees will be required to pay an application fee of $1,000.00, an annual licence fee of $5,000.00, together with further fees of between $6,000.00 and $10,000.00, which further fees will relate to the number of rooms in a brothel and other factors yet to be published by the Authority.

The form of application should be found within the Prostitution Regulations.All applications must disclose certain details about the proposed brothel arrangement, in particular:

  • whether the brothel will be run in partnership or association with another person and, if so, the other person's identifying particulars;
  • the proposed name and address of the brothel premises;
  • the name, address, occupation and date of birth of the owner of the brothel premises; and
  • the names, addresses, occupations and dates of birth of all 'associates'of the applicant.

A person is your 'associate' if he or she is:

  • over 18 years of age;
  • a member of your immediate family;
  • has entered into a business arrangement with you for the provision of prostitution; and/or
  • the sole or joint owner or lessor of the proposed brothel premises.

Applicants must also consent to having all or any of their identifying particulars taken by the Authority or police. 'Identifying particulars'include finger, palm, voice and footprints, as well as handwriting specimens.

If, before the application is decided, you realise that any of the information contained within your application has changed, you must within 10 days furnish the Authority with particulars of the change(s). You may withdraw your application at any time before the licence is issued. If you do withdraw your application, the Authority must refund the licence fee, and may agree to refund some or all of the application fee. 


Once you have lodged a licence application it will be transferred to the Commissioner of the Prostitution Authority for consideration. In considering the application the Commissioner is required to make all appropriate inquiries about you, in particular with respect to your criminal history.

In so doing the Commissioner can direct you to provide all or any of your identifying particulars. After considering your application the Commissioner must prepare a report to the Authority which may include recommendations.

The Authority must reject your application for a licence if:

  • you have a previous conviction for operating of a brothel in Queensland or elsewhere;
  • you have an interest in another licensed brothel;
  • you hold a liquor permit or licence;
  • the combined total of licensed brothels in the locality of your proposed brothel would substantially affect the character of that locality; and/or
  • you are not a 'suitable person' to operate a licensed brothel.

In determining whether or not you are a 'suitable person' to hold a brothel licence, the Authority will look to:

  • your reputation, character, honesty and integrity;
  • whether you have any prior criminal convictions, in particular for an indictable offence and/or a sex offence involving violence, intimidation,threats, or children;
  • whether you are an associate of a person or company who has been convicted of a disqualifying or indictable offence, or holds a liquor licence;
  • whether you have access to the financial resources necessary to ensure the continued viability of the brothel;
  • whether you will implement health and safety mechanisms for the protection of the prostitutes employed at the brothel;
  • whether you will implement a business structure sufficiently transparent to allow all your associates to be identified.

The Authority has the power to conduct all appropriate inquiries about any aspect of the application and to seek advice and information from any entity. In so doing the Authority may require you to produce any further information which it deems relevant.

Your application will lapse if you fail to provide the information within 14 days. Moreover, the Authority is not required to conduct a hearing to decide whether or not to grant the licence and may grant a licence with or without restrictions or conditions.

If you do receive a licence you must only operate one brothel per licence at the premises named in the licence. The way in which you carry on the brothel must be in accordance with the conditions or restrictions stipulated in the licence document.

All brothel licences are limited in so far as they are granted for a term of 1 year, are personal to the licensee, are not transferable, and do not vest by law.

The Authority has the right to cancel or alter your licence, or add, change or revoke any conditions or restrictions which attach to it. The Authority may also require you to surrender, renew or produce your licence for endorsement.

If you become aware of any change(s) in the details given in your licence application, you must give the Authority written notice of the change(s) within 10 days.

Your licence will be automatically cancelled if you are convicted of an indictable or disqualifying offence, or become insolvent, or provide misleading or deceptive information to the Authority.

Furthermore, the Authority may take disciplinary action against a licensee if the licensee, or a person with an interest in the brothel under the licence, is:

  • charged or convicted of an offence against the Act, in particular an offence involving a penalty of imprisonment; or
  • operating the brothel contrary to the conditions/restrictions of the licence,or in a generally unacceptable manner.

If disciplinary grounds exist, the Authority may:

  • reprimand the licensee;
  • impose a fine of up to $10,125.00;
  • compel the licensee to perform an act or comply with a requirement;
  • suspend or cancel the licence.

If you are merely charged with an offence, as opposed to being convicted of an offence, the Authority can only suspend your licence. Also, you may request that the Authority conducts a formal inquiry in respect of all disciplinary proceedings taken against you. 


This Information Outline is available courtesy of AussieLegal's online legal information and law firm referral service. 

If you want further information, we recommend contacting the law firm of Ryan& Bosscher Lawyers who specialize in this area of law. They are located at 3rd floor, Bank of NSW Chambers, 33 Queen Street, Brisbane 4000,or call them on (07) 3229 3166. 

Ryan and Bosscher, Lawyers, is a specialist Criminal Law firm committed to providing quality service to clients. There are very few firms practising exclusively in the area of Criminal Defence, and with a reputation of hard headedness, dogged determination and fearlessness, Ryan and Bosscher has become the premier Criminal Defence firm in Queensland, committed to Justice and the protection of an individual's rights. Our specialisation ensures provision of the highest standard of representation to any person charged with a criminal offence. Our familiarity with Criminal Law also ensures that Counsel briefed for complex advocacy matters are also highly qualified in the Criminal Defence field.

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