Usually, you have 14 days to cancel a contract you had entered into online. However, if you agree for the services to start earlier than that (such as accessing digital material) then the cancellation rights end as soon as you access such material. But that is not relevant as you are way beyond these initial 14 days anyway. The issue now is whether you can cancel after these initial 14 days have elapsed.
You won’t be able to cancel the online part of the course as you have had access to it, so it is just the remaining in-person instruction part that you would be trying to cancel.
There would be no automatic right to cancel it now and that would generally only be possible if the contract allows it.
In the absence of a contractual cancellation clause, 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. Perhaps the substantial delays experienced have made it no longer a relevant course and that may be an argument you could use.
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.