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Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Why did you leave the course?
I decided to pursue a different field of study that interested me more
So you do not actually meet the criteria for a refund as set out in the agreement?
No I do not but it does not say that refund is limited to this criteria
But it does say 'tuition fees are not normally refundable'?
I notified the college of my withdrawal before the start of the term and complied with the formalities required by them
Do I have any rights under any statute?
The principal refused my request and said that the unused fees stays in my account and I can use it to pursue any higher level of studies with the college. I find this quite strange. If it is unused, why can't he refund me the fees?
The only way to try and approach this would be under statutory and contractual laws by arguing that you have paid the fees for a service and that by withdrawing from the course they should refund you any unused/unspent part of the fees you paid. You can in fact treat these fees like a deposit.
If the other party is a business, they will be subject to certain consumer rules and regulations. For example, you will have some protection under Schedule 2, Regulation 1(d) of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. It states that if the contract has been cancelled after a deposit has been placed you are entitled to have the deposit returned in full, unless the other party has spent time, effort and money, in which case they can deduct reasonable expenses. Even if some expenses have been incurred, if these are subsequently recovered, for example by getting a replacement for you, the deposit should still be returned in full. It follows that a blanket non-refundable clause that entitles the other party to keep the deposit in all circumstances is most likely going to be unfair and unlawful.
If you are having difficulties in recovering the deposit when you believe you are entitled to have it returned, advise them that you will not hesitate reporting them to the Office of Fair Trading and, if necessary, pursue the matter further through the county court. Exerting such pressure could often work in changing the other party’s position in this matter.
I have told them that I will take legal action if my request is denied but they seem to be confident with their position. What further steps shall I take?
you cannot force them to refund you and if they really wanted to they can continue refusing to pay you back, which means the only way to pursue this is by making a claim in the small claims court
Are my statutory rights stronger than the wording of the contract which I signed? What are the chances of success of my claim?
this is mainly a contractual claim, rather than a statutory one but it is impossible to advice you of your chances, no one can tell you whether you will win or lose or what percentage you have of succeeding - a lot depends on the judge on the day, the defence of the other party and so on - it is just the nature of litigation
Will I be paying their legal expenses if I lose? How much is it likely to cost if the matter goes to litigation?
no you will not be as this is the small claims court. You are looking at around £80 claim fee, £40 allocation fee and £165 hearing fee
Before you try and exit chat can you please let me know if your original query has been answered or if you need me to clarify anything else in relation to it before I close this at my end?
Thats all. Thanks
You are most welcome, all the best