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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I booked a hotel for Easter in Italy, but Italy was lockdown

Customer Question

I booked a hotel for Easter in Italy, but Italy was lockdown at the time so I couldn't go. The hotel is refusing to provide refund.
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 17 days ago.

Hello, this is Jim and I’m a dual-qualified lawyer (UK & Republic of Ireland) happy to help you today.

Did you book with the hotel directly or through an agent?

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Hi Jim, thanks for your reply, I'm Wayne. I booked with the hotel directly (via their website).
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 17 days ago.

OK, thanks. Under EU law you are due a refund - I will set out what to do next

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** thing to mention is that it was a non-refundable booking. But I couldn't go there due to the lockdown in Italy.
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 17 days ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** bookings are generally non-refundable. However, you should demand the refund from the hotel.

Only last week the European Commission said that customers should be refunded in this situation.

There are essential terms in the contract - you pay for the hotel, they provide the accommodation on a specific date. There is no cooling-off period for a holiday booking on a specific date, which then begs the question of whether this contract is void due to the current situation.

If one of these essential terms is not able to be carried out, in this case due to an external event being the pandemic, you can demand a refund. You therefore need to say the contract has been frustrated and therefore void.

The key term here is "force majeure", or an "act of God" clause - meaning that if performance of the contract is impossible then the parties can agree to suspend their obligations - for the duration of the force majeure, or in this case, for as long as the service cannot be carried out due to the lock down. However, if you couldn't go to Italy due to the lockdown then the contract is frustrated.

You can remind the company that this is a two way contract - they cannot provide the hotel service due to travel restrictions, which means you cannot then go abroad - this is outside of your control.

If you booked by credit card then you can make a claim - you can contact the card provider and ask for a refund under S.75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 - as they are jointly liable if you do not get the service you paid for. If you did not book with a credit card (or you did and the card company refuses to reimburse) then you should consider a European Small Claim.

You should send the company a letter before action to demand repayment of the further payment within 14 days, failing which you will lodge a European Small Claim.

The attached letter is generic and needs to be tailored (and quote the above breach). You can use the European Small Claims procedure in order to claim. This allows for cross border claims of up to 5,000 euro in value.

Assuming they do not respond or they do and refuse to pay, you need to fill in the attached Form A and attach any evidence you wish to rely upon to either your local county court, or theirs (you have the choice).

The form asks for your bank details and the 25 euro issue fee will be deducted but added to your claim sum. You can also access that form here: https://e-justice.europa.eu/content_small_claims-42-en.do

The court will then serve the form on the hotel who then has 30 days to respond. The court will consider the response and give judgment on the claim (or if further details are required the court will write to either party). They may hold an oral hearing (by telephone if the court has the facilities - which most do have) but with the facts of this case it is unlikely as it should be capable of being dealt with on paper. If you win you get a certificate against the hotel which means they must pay your claim.

With the letter before action you can email it to the hotel and include your bank details so they can pay you (ensure you give them the IBAN and BIC code, name of your account and name of the bank).

I hope this helps - if you can please click 5 stars at the top of your screen, I can answer follow up questions at no extra charge and Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Many thanks,

Jim

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 16 days ago.

I hope this helps? When you have the chance would you mind giving me a positive rating for the answer (the site will then credit me for my time). There should be a rating system at the top of the screen. Any other queries please let me know.

Many thanks,

Jim