• Hailey Rice

Cancelation of Event Contracts and COVID-19

If you were getting married or planning a major in-person event in 2020, our heart goes out to you. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the events industry in Connecticut, and many consumers have been reaching out for advice about their venue, catering and vendor contracts.

Recently, I heard from a Connecticut bride who's wedding had been canceled after being postponed from earlier this year. The venue was looking to keep a portion of her deposit, citing the various email correspondence it had exchanged with her. She asked if the venue could do that.

There is no law in Connecticut that deals with this issue explicitly right now, and most federal protections that have been issued deal with loans and housing.  Generally, consumers' rights to a refund are governed by their contracts with the vendor. If your wedding venue or caterer is objecting to a refund, the first place you should look is in your contract.  Generally, when you sign a contract for an event venue, you're agreeing to pay for the rental of the space and the services performed on that day, not the venue's work in corresponding with you. Similarly, when you put a deposit down for a caterer, it is in anticipation of services provided on the day of your event. However, every contract is different, and you should check to see what you agreed to pay for. It's also very likely that there is a specific section of the contract that discusses refunds and cancelations. What this section says will be the most important factor in determining what happens to your deposit.

It also may matter who canceled the event-- if the consumer cancels, it may be less likely that he or she will obtain a full refund. If the venue or vendor cancels, the contract may give different rights.

If you think your contract entitles you to a complete refund, contact your vendor or venue and point this out as respectfully as you can.  If they disagree with you or refuse to issue the refund, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for a refund.  If they agree to issue a partial refund, but you intend to seek the full amount, do not sign any kind of agreement or release stating that they don't owe you the remaining money, or that says you agree not to sue them. If they ask you to sign a document like this as a condition of offering a partial refund, you may want to consider waiting and bringing a claim for the full amount in court.

Our attorneys are always happy to answer your questions about COVID-19 travel and event cancelations. For more information, call or text us at (860) 756-0405, or email hello@ctconsumeradvocates.com.

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