Like many other industries, the wedding industry has been hit hard by the Government restrictions which have been brought into effect to tackle COVID-19. With large gatherings being prohibited it is no surprise that there has been a significant downturn in the number of people proceeding with their wedding plans.
The Competition and Markets Authority has published useful guidance relating to cancellations and refunds which can be viewed on its website with a view to assisting both consumers and businesses.
Where a wedding cannot go ahead without contravening the Government’s restrictions it is possible that the contract has been frustrated. A contract is frustrated when something happens after the contract was entered into which means it can no longer be performed at all or performance would be radically different to what was agreed. As a result, the contract comes to an end. Where this is the case it will most likely result in a request for a refund being made by the consumer in respect of sums already paid.
It is important to note that businesses cannot retain a deposit just because they have stated that it is a “non-refundable deposit”. The sums retained must represent a genuine estimate of the losses of the business. If the business has already incurred certain expenses or provided services to the consumer then those sums may be capable of being retained if they can be justified. A breakdown should always be provided to the consumer. It is likely that the court would allow the business to retain some of the monies paid in the event that costs have been incurred by the business.
The parties should always bear in mind that there is a duty to mitigate losses. This may mean trying to negotiate an alternative date or a smaller number of guests to attend the wedding.
Each case should be assessed on its own facts particularly noting that the restrictions are subject to change. If you are in dispute with a consumer and you would like further advice please contact Jessica McSorley by email: email@example.com.
Bespoke advice should be taken in respect of your terms and conditions to ensure that they are drafted in such a way that the terms are likely to be upheld. A strong set of terms and conditions can make the process much simpler should the wedding be cancelled and provide each of the parties with more certainty. If you would like assistance with the preparation of terms and conditions please contact Stephen Wyer by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.