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JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14309
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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Are you a legal adviser based in the UK, i'm in the uk, okay

Customer Question

Hi Pearl, Are you a legal adviser based in the UK
JA: Where is this? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: i'm in the uk
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: okay my situation is this during this year I was unable to pay for my childs school fees so she was told to not come into school until the fees were paid, they charged me for her being off school for 6 weeks and also charged me for the bus fares and a school trip which she couldn't go on due to the non-payment. Is this fair and should I pay for something she didn't use
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Please upload a copy of the school's terms and conditions on here

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok I have written to the school once I receive this can I send it to you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I chatted to Ben Jones with my issue with the private school my niece is attending, due to issues with the financial problems I was unable to pay and she was told to not come in to school this ended up being 6 weeks being off school, we have been charged for this as well as bus charges and also a school trip when she couldn't go on. I have managed to get the T's & C's from the school for you to look at and see if we still have to pay this?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. The first point of reference to your rights will be the contract you had with the establishment. Unless the contract contained a specific clause which allowed the refund of fees in the event of unforeseen circumstances, there is no automatic right to expect a refund, even if they are closed and you are not receiving the service you had paid for.

The relevant clause in your contract is 14. It states that if they have made reasonable attempts to minimise the effects of this event and have taken alternative approaches to provide their services, like remote teaching, then you will continue being liable for the fees. Only if they are completely unable to provide any services for at least 14 days will you stop having to pay them the fees.

Some establishments are considering discounts on the fees due, or a fee freezes in the next academic year, whilst others allow the parents to offset the fees against these due for the period when the children eventually return. Another option is a partial refund for services the establishment would not have to spend money on, like food, transport, utilities or staff wages. However, these steps are voluntary and down to each establishment.

The first step would be to speak to the establishment to find out what fee breaks are on offer. If you know other parents you may wish to do it all together to add a bit more weight to your argument. If you are struggling to pay you should also inquire about bursaries.

Certain trade bodies overseeing the private education industry have commented that such establishments “are under immense pressures and this is one of the issues that will be dealt with at establishment level, depending on their individual policies and contracts with parents. It’s always a case of parents approaching their schools and making sure there’s a strong relationship and being willing to share any difficulties they face."

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, This relates to my personal circumstances of delay in paying the fees back in January this year and not due to COVID 19. There was no help from the school so she received no help in her studies at all from any of her teachers so I don't understand why the school has charged me for this and also the school trip which she was not allowed to go on and using the school bus as well?
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 1 year ago.

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

No, you shouldn't be paying under a contract if one of the essential terms is not performed - you can refuse payment for the period of time your child was unable to attend. I realise the non-attendance was not due to Covid. The school offers a service and you could put them to proof for their loss - if they allege they have incurred a loss due to your child's non-attendance. If she received no help from the teachers then you can allege breach of contract and also breach of your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 - under the Act you have a right to expect a service carried out with reasonable care and skill - you could threaten to report them to Trading Standards on 03454 040506 if they dispute your case. And also Ofsted - a report to them may be worthwhile too. The fact you were charged for a school trip in any event is also unfair - you could say that to charge you for all this is an unfair contractual term - as you are a consumer, not a business, so have stronger rights.

I hope this helps? If I have answered the question would you kindly leave me a 5 star rating (at the top of your screen), any follow up questions are welcomed.

Many thanks,