The UK government announced lockdown on 23 March 2020, which saw an immediate ban on all social gatherings, including weddings.
The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) have said that they would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund if government public health measures mean they cannot use the services of a venue. However, the reality is that many venues are refusing to refund anything at all.
What processes should be followed when cancelling or postponing your wedding?
If you are concerned about an upcoming personal event such as a wedding, you should first speak to the venue and any suppliers you have agreements with to try and negotiate an agreeable way forward. If your venue or supplier cancels then you will be entitled to get the money paid back for what has been cancelled, although you will still need to check for any exclusions in your contract with them. If you have wedding insurance speak to your provider and check the terms and conditions of your policy to determine exactly what is covered. If you cancel or postpone then speak to your venue and suppliers, and try to agree a postponement to a later date. If this isn’t possible and you have to cancel, you could be liable for any money already paid. By law, deposits cannot be ‘non-refundable‘; so if a company refuses to return your money then ask for a breakdown of why it can’t be refunded.
Goods like wedding dresses not linked to a specific date will be treated differently and can be non-refundable.”
You should contact your wedding insurance provider immediately for a clear outline of what is covered in your policy before you make any big decisions. The legal position with insurance will depend on the wording of the policy and what exclusions there are. Some insurance providers cover the costs of cancelling or postponing your wedding, but others say it depends on the date of wedding, while some are even suggesting the decision to cancel won’t be covered at all.
For weddings abroad, can you claim full refunds due to travel bans?
Provided you booked through an ABTA registered travel agent, you should get the cost of the fights and hotel back in full. However, this will only cover the ‘holiday’ aspect of your wedding. Again, you should speak with your insurers as soon as possible with regards to claiming refunds for the wedding.
What about guests coming from abroad to a wedding in the UK?
The normal rule is that if a flight is cancelled by the airline the passenger is entitled to a full refund. In the UK, flights often get cancelled when the Foreign & Commonwealth Office recommend not to travel to a destination.
If the flight is not cancelled refunds will depend on the wording of their individual travel insurance.
Other options to try and recover some money
If you don’t have wedding insurance, or your claim is refused, you could contact your bank or credit card company (if you paid using a credit card). Make it aware of the situation and the complaint you’ve made, and you may be able to get reimbursed for at least some of the costs. If you paid by credit card anything you’ve bought costing between £100 and £30,000 has additional protections if something goes wrong. It’s covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which means that your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract (such as event cancellation) and you can claim your money back directly from it. If you paid by debit card you may be able to ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card in a process called chargeback. Chargeback isn’t a right or law like Section 75, but banks are often willing to help. It can also be useful if you’re trying to recoup costs of less than £100, where Section 75 doesn’t apply.
If you want to explore these options in more details or require some legal advice then please call Justin Sadler on 01189589711 or email [email protected]
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Justin deals with all aspects of Dispute Resolution for both businesses and individuals, including including Contentious Probate, Employment Law ( for both businesses and individuals) and Commercial Litigation. This means that he is familiar with the many different courts and tribunal as well as the many different methods for resolving disputes, including alternative dispute resolution such as adjudication and mediation.