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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 61204
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My venue chose to change the caterer a month after i paid my

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Hi there. My venue chose to change the caterer a month after i paid my deposit. They said they needed until October to get the new staff together, as they had decided to do it themselves. They have not bothered to contact us, and we've now asked for our money back. They're refusing. What can we do about this?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Ah I'm sorry, I'm in England Surrey specifically
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: We haveemailed and written them a letter, stating we have lost faith and want our money back, because they are in breach of contract
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Our contract stipulates the use of the agreed upon caterer

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. Firstly, I need to ask some initial questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Hi Ben, fire away :-)

When did you pay the deposit and if possible, please upload a copy of the contract on here so that I may take a look at it

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
We paid it in January, they sacked the caterer in February. I've worked in hospitality before, and caterers don't get sacked out the blue within a month like that, so I feel they took our money under false pretences.
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Let me see if I can find the contract. Won't be long.

OK thanks

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Thisis closest thing I have to a contract:
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Under 'catering', it clearly states Caper and Berry are the only caterers that can be used unless under exceptional circumstances.

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
We also believe this was within the reasonable control of loseley park.
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Thank you

Many thanks for your patience. Looking at the terms, they specifically state that ‘except in very unusual circumstances’ you would be catered by the named caterers. However, being sacked and no longer available could quite easily come under this exception so I would not say that they are necessarily in breach of contract by not supplying that caterer for the wedding. On what other grounds do you think they have breached the contract?

 

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
We were not told at the time of giving them a deposit that the caterer would change, and 50% of the reason we went with them was the caterer. They have never catered before, and we have no guarantee that they would be as good as the previous caterer that we thought we were getting.

From our point of view, it's like ordering a red convertible, and then being told after we've paid that we will get a blue truck. It's not what we ordered, so we don't want it.
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
The caterer are available. The venue decided to do their own catering to make more money for themselves, rather than using the agreed upon third party caterer. There was no problem with the caterer from what the venue has said, they just simply want to do it themselves.

I appreciate it is not what you ordered but it is allowable under the terms and that is what you agreed to. I appreciate you are under the impression that someone cannot just be sacked like that, but I am also pretty sure it is possible and what is the norm in the industry does not automatically have to apply here. So it could well be that at the time you booked they would not have known the caterer would change, hence why you were not told.

 

The best option for you would be to challenge the clause by saying that if the caterers are still available and there is no clear issue which means they cannot use them (trying to make more money in-house is not probably going to cut it), then it would not satisfy the ‘very unusual circumstances’ exception

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
How should we phrase that to them?
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Also they're insisting on calling us when we're at work, but we want everything in writing so they can't mislead us again.

You can specifically ask them that all correspondence is in writing, or if needed you can record the calls to have as evidence.

 

As to putting it to them, you have to point them to the specific clause, make it clear that the wording of ‘very unusual circumstances’ is going to be rather limited in nature and interpreted very narrowly legally and would not include ‘standard’ decisions like simply not wanting to use a caterer any more and wishing to take the catering in-house – that is not a ‘very unusual’ scenario so on that basis they are in breach of the agreement they had with you.

 

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Thank you so much Ben, this is perfect. I really appreciate your help. Have a lovely evening :-)

Most welcome and all the best

 

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