Q: Due to further COVID19 restrictions we have just been forced to cancel our wedding for a second time. When the venue cancelled previously we agreed to postpone and rearrange when lockdown eased. We had just rearranged, albeit with reduced guest numbers, when we were hit by this latest wave of restrictions. This time we decided to cancel indefinitely, as our close family are overseas and cannot keep booking and cancelling travel arrangements.
The venue suggested we still have the ceremony and postpone the reception to a later date, but as we want close family at the ceremony we declined. Now they are refusing to fully refund our deposit. Can they do this?
A: Without seeing the contract between you and the venue it is difficult to say what they can and cannot do, as contracts vary considerably. However, if they want you to go ahead with the wedding under different arrangements to those originally agreed, then it could be considered to be a variation of the contract and you would need to agree to the variation(s) for it to be legally binding.
There are circumstances where the venue would be entitled to withhold full refunds, for example they could withhold the cost of services or goods they had already paid out for and which could not be re-used for another customer, such as printed place cards. They could also withhold other costs, such as staff time spent in planning your wedding. It would however be considered unfair for the venue to pocket your cash simply because the event is not going ahead.
Check the small print on your insurance policy if you have one. Otherwise you could apply to the small claims court for refunds you consider the venue should be repaying you but has not. However, you may find that a letter from your solicitor could prevent it going that far.
This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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