Lubna Shuja, Vice President of the Law Society of England and Wales.
From: Lubna Shuja
“Customers must be able to request a refund or postpone their party”
COUPLES across the UK whose weddings have been postponed or canceled due to Covid-19 are now planning ceremonies as pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
In March 2020, weddings in England were banned due to the lockdown. Small ceremonies were allowed from June 2020 with a maximum of 30 guests. This cap on the numbers was lifted on June 21 of this year. However, some couples are still struggling with the venues to get full or partial refunds for weddings canceled in 2020.
What consumer rights do couples have? Wedding venues and other providers often contract directly with couples and are subject to the terms and implied terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If a venue was forced to close their wedding by the UK government during the lockdown, couples had the right to close their wedding postpone or request a full or partial refund.
My venue refused to give me a refund for my 2020 canceled wedding. What are my rights?
Which? found that couples had difficulty getting refunds or rescheduling appointments due to Covid-19 measures last year. In June, which one? reported that some hotels, barns, and country houses do not treat couples fairly.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidelines state that consumers should be offered a full refund if a wedding is canceled due to a lockdown. However, only a court can decide on the application of the law in individual cases.
In most cases, the CMA expects companies to reimburse customers when the company terminates their contract, as well as reimburse them for any non-refundable deposits and waive administrative fees for processing reimbursements.
If you still haven’t received a refund from a venue for a canceled wedding, you can complain to the CMA here1. In the year ended March 2021, the regulator received 2,400 complaints about wedding venues, with an average of £ 6,500 at stake.
The wedding sector is under investigation by the CMA as part of its investigation into companies that reportedly failed to respect refund rights during the pandemic.
My wedding venue is broke; what do I do now? You will need to register your refund claim with the administrator. However, there is no guarantee that you will get your entire event fee back. If you have wedding insurance, you may be able to get it if your policy covers it.
Is it fair if my venue charges me the same price for a smaller wedding? No, it is unfair for a venue to charge the same price for a wedding with fewer guests as it would be a godsend for the provider to the detriment of the consumer.
If you feel you need to take legal action against a jurisdiction or a supplier, you can use the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor2 service.
1. Gov.uk – Report a company that is behaving unfairly during the coronavirus outbreak (coronavirus-businesscomplaint.service.gov.uk)
2. Find a lawyer – The Law Society: https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/?Pro=True
Lubna Shuja is Vice President of the Law Society of England and Wales. She will become the first female president of Asia in October 2022 and only the seventh female president since the Law Society was founded in 1825.