Police apologize for fining 5-year-old $195 for selling lemonade at stand
File photo of a young girl crying.

A five-year-old girl was fined $195 for a lemonade stand.


André Spicer, a professor of "organisational behaviour" at the Cass Business School at City University London, reports, "four local council enforcement officers stormed up to her little table."

Professor Spicer helped his daughter make four "jugs" of lemonade, which she sold at 50p ($.65 American) for a small cup or £1 ($1.30 American) for a large cup.

The girl was fined £150 ($195 American).

Spicer is co-author of the book, The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work.

"But don’t worry, it is only £90 if it’s paid quickly," one officer reportedly said. That is still $117 American.

The officers made the young girl cry.

"My daughter burst into tears, repeating again and again 'have I done a bad thing?'" Professor Spicer said, noting his daughter sobbed the entire walk home.

"When my she had finally calmed down, I started to try to make sense of what had just happened. I’m a professor in a business school, so I probably should have known some kind of permit was required," Spicer said. "But this was a five-year-old kid selling lemonade. She wasn’t exactly a public safety hazard."

The BBC explained how the child would have to wait a dozen years until she was 17-years-old to comply with all of the rules:

  • To operate a market stall, you will need a street trading licence
  • There are two types of street trading licences: temporary and permanent
  • The application fee for both temporary and permanent licences is £75 ($97 America)
  • You must be over 17 years of age to hold a licence
  • To sell hot/high risk food, there are several extra restrictions in place on a street trading licence

Local authorities have announced the fine will be cancelled.

"We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen," a spokesperson told the New York Post. “The fine will be canceled immediately and we will be contacting Professor Spicer and his daughter to apologize.”

When Spicer told his daughter they could get a permit and set up a stand again, she told him of her lost interest.

"No," the five-year-old said. "It's too scary."

"She just wanted to put a smile on people's faces," her father told the BBC.  "She was really proud of herself."