Focus On: Breach of Contract

24 March 2021 
3 minutes
Dispute Resolution

With a further extended lockdown and unpredictable summer event season looming, consumers and suppliers alike are stuck in a position of limbo being unable to plan or organise events. The Competition & Markets Authority have issued some useful guidance which you should consider if you are concerned about an upcoming wedding booking, sporting, or theatre event.

Our Dispute Resolution team have set out some frequently asked questions which you should consider if an event you have planned has been/or is likely to be cancelled:

My event cannot proceed as a result of current lockdown laws. Am I entitled to a refund?

If due to lockdown restrictions, an event which you have contracted to cannot go ahead because it would breach the law, then a consumer will be entitled to a refund. This is likely to be the case if due to no fault of either party the original contract entered into cannot be performed at all or the performance would be radically different to what was agreed.

  For example: If Mr & Miss X want to cancel their wedding because of strict restriction of numbers, they will likely be able to do this if they can prove that to proceed with the wedding on the original date would significantly change the nature of the original contract. There would be a strong argument that the contract has been frustrated.

If the event is cancelled will I get a full refund?

In the majority of cases if the event is cancelled you will be entitled to a full refund. There may be an argument that if a consumer has already received some services, a supplier may be entitled to retain a proportion of the deposit paid. It is likely that these arguments will be few and far between and may not carry with them a high level of success. If a venue is to make such a claim, they will be required to disclose high level proofs to quantify the exact sums expended. These would include, for example: timesheets, invoices and receipts for work carried out.

I want to cancel my event what steps should I take?

Contact your venue supplier – the majority of venues understand the current situation and pressures faced because of the pandemic and will work with you to facilitate a cancellation or postponement of your event.

Check your insurance policies – whilst most policies do not cover cancellation due to Government restrictions, they may cover you if you chose to postpone within a defined period.

Check your contract – it is important that you are familiar with the terms of your contract. This becomes even more important if you are finding that your supplier is unwilling to engage or is demanding excessive cancellation fees. You may discover that your supplier is in breach of other parts of the contract, in which case, you should point this out.

Contact Consumer Line for free advice.

File a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority.

Consider credit and debit card refund services.

If you cannot resolve your issues through the above methods it may be necessary to instruct a solicitor. Before instructing a solicitor, you should weigh up the cost benefits. For example, if you are claiming for less than £3000.00 it may be more cost efficient to issue a small claim.

If I instruct MKB Law what steps will you take?

The first step we will always take is to discuss your case with you and establish your particular needs and goals. It may be necessary following our initial discussion to write to the other party on your behalf to negotiate a settlement. It may be the case that following these negotiations it is necessary for formal court proceedings to be issued, however, this will always be a last resort.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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