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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 72496
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I had a question but I have no idea how to go about it. Last

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Hello. I had a question but I have no idea how to go about it. Last year in February I applied for a driving instructors course. I paid in full however a month later covid struck and I was unable to start learning. I have hardly used any resources and not even gone past stage one. However due to covid and the change in lifestyle completely and the fact that driving schools are closed, I can’t carry on with the course i have paid for it in full however when I called the driving school they said there is no refund even if I haven’t done any of the course. I don’t know if I have any rights in getting my money back. I’m happy for them to keep any admin fees they may have charged me.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: I’m based in Portsmouth uk
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I emailed them but they did not answer. I finally managed to call them but they said that I can not cancel the course, if I do, I won’t get any of my money back.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don’t think so. I think that’s it.

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.

How much did you pay them? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you so much for getting back to me. I paid a total of £1495 as I wanted to get on to the course immediately.

Thank you very much for clarifying. Are they still able to provide you with the learning materials and the instruction?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Well the instruction classes are currently closed, due to covid and it’s been opening and closing due to the lockdown rules.
So that’s no available at the moment. I can do the preliminary online training but the physical lessons aren’t available at the moment.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Due to covid my entire circumstances have changed and unfortunately I’m unable to take the course any more.

Thank you. Is there anything in the contract which allows them to delay the provision of the course in unforeseen circumstances?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
I’ve been trying to find their terms and conditions that I had signed but it was an online document that I don’t have access to any more.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Online this is what I found on their website. Does this mean I have no rights whatsoever should I need to cancel. Covid was a completely new exemption so no idea if anything can happen about it
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Pursuant to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, if you have agreed that your Part 1 training can start during the Cooling Off Period then your right to cancel this agreement during the Cooling Off Period and obtain a full refund will be lost.You shall return all course material in original condition without delay and in any event no later than 14 days from the day on which you confirm your cancellation to us. If you fail to return the course materials by this date, we shall be entitled to recover the cost of the materials from you, and other associated reasonable administrative costs.If a candidate withdraws from the course for any other reason, then no refund will be made available and the candidate will still be liable for any outstanding payments due for the remainder of the course. If you fail to progress to Part 2 or Part 3 you will not be entitled to a refund.

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.

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 7 days ago.
Thank you so much. This was very helpful. Thank you for your time!

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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