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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71387
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I have a query regarding a contract for my wedding is this

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Hi I have a query regarding a contract for my wedding is this something you can help with?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: North Norfolk, Uk
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have asked to cancel my “wedding” due to COVID restrictions and they are saying I should pay the full quote amount if I want to cancel. The issue is I have signed their wedding contract but technically my event would be a social gathering event because it isn’t a legal wedding anymore as we are already married. So we would only be allowed 6 people.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: that I’m at work so the response may not be rapid! :)

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Hi Ben, I’m Becky, thanks for you help

Hi there. When did you sign the venue provider's contract? and if possible, please upload a copy of it on here

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
we originally signed last year, but they would only offer us postponement not cancellation. So we resigned the contract this year in July to secure our new date of 8th April 2021.
However due to family circumstances we actually got legally married in January of this year. I will find the attachment, and send that too you
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
File attached (GVQ44S3)

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information Becky. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; 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.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

First of all you may wish to refer to guidance published by the Competition and Markets Authority on the cancellation of event contracts which cannot go ahead or are severely affected by the current situation:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds

You can also approach this under the law on frustration. The legal principle of ‘frustration’ can sometimes be used to discharge the obligations of both parties to a contract and allow them to walk away from the contractual relationship without any further liabilities to each other. However, the circumstances when this may occur are relatively rare and certain factors have to be satisfied for it to be applicable. The most relevant ones are:

- an unforeseen event occurs after a contract is entered into; and

- this event is outside the control of the parties, and makes the contract impossible, illegal or radically different to perform.

Therefore, the event which is relied on must fundamentally change the performance of the contract, to such a degree that it basically makes it completely different to what was originally intended. It is not enough for the contract to have only become more expensive or more difficult to perform, there has to be a fundamental change to the original purposes of the contract.

If a contract is deemed to have been frustrated, the parties to it do not need to perform any future contractual obligations. In addition, they cannot claim damages for non-performance of these future obligations. Additionally, any money already paid under the contract before the frustrating event occurred is repayable to the other side. However, if a party has incurred expenses before the frustrating event occurred and such expenses are non-recoverable, they can seek to offset these from any money due for repayment.

Whilst either party can try and argue that frustration has occurred, it is important to note that this is a relatively rare occurrence and if challenged by the other side, only a court an decide if it can be applied in these specific circumstances. That does mean that if the parties cannot agree to it, it may have to be taken to court for resolution.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
according to this because there is no guidance for April 2021 then I would have to wait till we had guidance before the contract could be deemed frustrated?

Hello, thank you for your further queries, I will be happy to answer these. Basically, yes because it is possible that restrictions will be lifted for that period and it could go ahead still. I hope this clarifies things for you a little bit more.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
there is no other way of cancelling the event before then that you can think of without us having to pay the full quoted amount?

The only other option is to ask them to re-advertise the date and find a replacement for you to reduce the losses they would incur and refund you the balance but whether they will fill the date in the circumstances is difficult to predict

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I asked them to do that. I don’t want any money back at all I just want to cancel and not have to pay the full quoted amount.

How much is outstanding?

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
they would want the full amount as though we would have the full wedding day which currently is quoted for at £5083.80. And they would want that amount if we cancelled. Because it’s within 6 months. But I don’t even think Iin April we can have whatever the governement guidelines would be for a wedding because it isn’t going to be a wedding legally. So would we fall under social gathering? So really we should have been given an Event booking contract not the wedding one.

Thank you very much for clarifying. The other option is that you simply refuse to pay and take your chances.

Whilst a party can make demands for payment, instruct debt collectors or threaten legal action, it is important to note that they can only really force someone to pay if they actually go to court, submit a claim and are successful with it.

There is, however, no guarantee that they will actually ever go that far. Many people issue threats and demands, without ever having the intention of taking the matter to Court. This is done in the hope that the scare the other party into complying with their demands to avoid the risk of being taken to Court. However, until a formal notification of a Court claim has been issued, there is never a guarantee that a claim will actually be made and it could always remain just a threat, rather than reality.

Even if a claim was made, due to the value of compensation sought, this matter would be assigned to the Small Claims Court. This is a relatively low-risk option because it is specifically aimed at the smaller, legally unrepresented parties. The costs of claiming are not that high, there is no need to have a lawyer and incur further costs as a result and even if a party loses the claim, they will not be liable to pay the other side’s legal fees. All they would have to pay is the court fees, which at most will be several hundred pounds and whatever the Court has decided should be paid to the claimant as a result of their original claim.

Also, once judgment has been issued, on the assumption you lose, the judgment is entered on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, where it will remain for 6 years. This is what is known as ‘having a CCJ’ and can impact your credit rating. However, if payment of the judgment is made within one month, the record will be removed from the Register and will no longer be visible. If payment is made after one month has passed, it will still remain on the Register for the 6 years, but will be marked as ‘satisfied’.

To conclude, it is possible to wait and see how far the other side is willing to take this before deciding on how to respond and even if a claim is made, it is possible to proceed and defend the claim in the knowledge that the financial risks of doing so will not be astronomically high and if any judgment made against you is paid within a month, there will be no further repercussions.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
That’s really helpful information, thank you for all of your advice

You are most welcome. If you have any further questions about this then please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be glad to help. All the best

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