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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We have a childminder refusing to return our deposits. 2010,

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We have a childminder refusing to return our deposits.

2010, We employed a childminder for day care with our first child. We paid a £500 deposit, which was not returned, no explanation given. To be honest we didn't realise, the transition from childminder to nursery was long winded.

2012, April we signed up with her again for the care of our second child, again a deposit of £500, to secure her for a November start. We didn't get a copy of any contract (dumb I know) we did sign various permission forms f trips etc.

July 2013 we engaged her to do a morning school drop for our eldest child when he started school in September. Again another £500 deposit. This time the childminder gave us an NCMA contract.

After a month of paying for both children with the childminder, and the fact she was not always reliable we looked for alternative arrangements. We were lucky enough to find a nursery close to the eldest child's school, meaning we no longer needed a school drop off either. This simplified our mornings, made the arrangements more dependable & saved us money.

We gave notice to the childminder 11th October, in person followed by email confirmation. The notice was taken well, but the follow up email from the childminder said following her policies, we would need to give 1) notice only from the first of the month, meaning we would need to pay for all of November 2) as two children were giving notice we would have to have a calendar month for each to run one after the other, 3) that as she was taking holiday during December, we would have to add her holiday entitlement to the notice period, and as we were taking a weeks holiday in October we would have to add that to the notice period as well. This would mean we would have to pay for both boys through all of November, December and then 16days of January.

We argued the point, reviewed our paperwork, requested a copy of the policy document and came up with the following.

The policy she spoke of, I signed, didn't date, but the next parent who signed it did so in May 2013. I remember her giving me the policy and needing it back to get the other parents to sign, so this date is probably right. The first paragraph does state one calendar month. The policy document does not reference any child, or the childminder, it is not signed by the childminder, and it is one document signed by four parents. The policy also said she would be able to demand a longer notice period in the event of multiple children leaving at the same time.

As I signed the policy document, to say I had read it, albeit a year after I engaged the childminder for youngest child & 6 months into the contract, we agreed to honour the condition of the policy for youngest child and give a full calendar month notice.

For the eldest child however, we had a completely different contract, which has the option of tying policy and other documents to it. No reference was made to any other documentation. There was also a space to insert a notice period, this was not filled in either. As this contract was not tied to the youngest child's contract, and no verbal comment was made to make us aware of policies we took the stance that they are separate and should only give 4weeks notice for the eldest child, and that it would run from the date we gave notice. The NCMA advise a 2-4week notice period should suffice. We explained this to the childminder, who was not happy, but seemed to agree.

Within the notice period the childminder gave us less than a days notice that she would not be able to take our eldest child to school for the whole of his last week, as it happened. She managed to take him on his last day, she said she would reimburse us the £20/day for her being unable to take him (£60).

We had expect therefor our 2x £500 deposits back at the end of November. We have various emails from her implying we would get payment. She was on holiday for the first couple of weeks in December, and heard before Christmas we would hear from the accountant after the tax deadline in January. We chased her again in January, a couple of times. We had realised by this point we hadn't received the 2010 deposit either, and made mention of that, and the £60 refund we were due.

We received a letter via email at the end of January, stating we in fact owed her money, for the non compliance of her policy. Stating we should have paid for both boys through December etc as detail above, this would mean we owe he over a thousand pounds. This was a complete U turn from correspondence prior to Christmas.

Is there any legal justification for her withholding deposits? Do we have a valid case for the small claims court? Have you any advice?
Best regards,

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :


You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this recorded delivery and keep a copy.


If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: or by completing form N1 and take it to your local County Court.


The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.


If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.


Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?


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