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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  11 years experience of general practice.
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My daughter and her fiancé have had to cancel their wedding

Resolved Question:

My daughter and her fiancé have had to cancel their wedding which was booked for September this year because they are having a baby - due in September. I would appreciate knowing just how binding the contract is that they signed as it has been pointed out that they obviously did not read the small print which stated that they would have to pay half of the cost of the reception if they cancelled. The cost for the reception was £3,800 and they paid a deposit of £600 which of course they have had to lose. As they have given 6 months notice and the wedding would have been on a Friday I would have thought losing the deposit would have been enough. What, in fact, has the venue lost out on as surely nothing would have been put in place so far in advance? Having to pay £1,900 for nothing is a bitter pill to swallow. Have they any recourse?

Mrs A Wilkinson
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 3 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hi there, thanks for your question.

tdlawyer :

My name isXXXXX can assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

Technically, this might be what is known as a "penalty clause". This is a clause which is unenforceable as a matter of law, UNLESS it represents a genuine pre-estimate of the loss that the establishment was likely to sustain if she cancelled.

tdlawyer :

Hello

Customer:

Given that they have given 6 months notice do you not feel that is adequate and what further action could they take in response to the demand?

tdlawyer :

Well, if the venue can find somebody else to hire the room etc. for the same day, technically, they're likely to suffer no financial loss. As such, they're unlikely to be able to claim the money from her. However, this depends on the wording of the contract clause, because the principle I'm talking about applies only where cancelling is a breach of the agreement. If the agreement permits (and that is essential) the cancellation, and states a sum to pay if that happens, this principle does not apply and the amount set out in the contract would have to be paid.

tdlawyer :

The distinction isn't always clear.

tdlawyer :

You can get a lot of information on this type of clause here: http://www.inhouselawyer.co.uk/index.php/contract/10375-playing-fair-with-penalty-clauses

Customer:

What happens if they are unable to pay this amount? Would the hotel take them to court?

tdlawyer :

I expect the hotel would, yes, but that's their decision. However, just because they're sued, doesn't mean that they would win, of course. In the small claims system, where this would be, people often issue hopeless claims because there are no real adverse costs risks if they lose.

Customer:

I don't know whether I should ask this but would you be able to give some advice on the best course of action?

tdlawyer :

Well, I would suggest you highlight the issues I've mentioned, and see what their reply is. It's ultimately up to them to sue, and the ball is in their court. So, you have to wait and see what they do if you dont pay it.

tdlawyer :

However, if you get a decent letter written by a lawyer pointing out the above, it might stand a decent chance of just getting rid of the issue there and then.

Customer:

Thank you very much for the advice which I will pass on to my daughter and they can take it from there.

tdlawyer :

You're welcome! Good luck!

tdlawyer :

Is there anything more I can answer tonight?

Customer:

No thank you I will sign off now.

tdlawyer :

Thank you.

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