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VIC Wedding Venue Cancelled Our Booking 6 Months Out

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Tyrone, 26 May 2015.

  1. Tyrone

    Tyrone Member

    26 May 2015
    Likes Received:
    Hi There,
    Our Mornington Peninsula holiday house that has previously been used as wedding venue and was fully supportive of our intention on this occasion has cancelled our booking 6 months out from our wedding.

    They are blaming the local shire who they claim have changed regulations around holding functions within "green wedge" belt. We booked this venue, signed contract and paid deposit almost 1 year ago and now have had this sprung on us at this late stage. We feel this is grossly unfair and believe our booking has potentially been mismanaged as they also advise in email that they have been in negotiations with council to see if they could make an exception to hold our event. So if they have known this cancelation was possible surely they have right to notify us asap?

    We also find it hard to believe that council can just nullify any contracts willy nilly like that and suspect that venue probably should not have taken our booking in the first place. It's possible venue may not have been aware of regulations until now but how is that our problem. We entered into agreement in good faith that they have all necessary permits etc required. Now have no wedding venue and many guests flying in from all over world and friends who have also booked accommodation nearby to this venue. So this news is really inconvenient at best.

    They also now request we get back and make decision how we want to proceed with booking by COB Friday which is a bit cheeky also. I am not prepared to be rushed and think it highly inappropriate for them to ask for decision to be made by me so quickly as to whether we want to keep our accommodation booking with them. Which we probably won't now.

    I feel like we are due some compensation at very least and interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. See their email to us below. Thanks.

    Tuesday, 26 May 2015, 15:35,
    Dear [T],
    I am emailing you now to inform you of a problem that we have encountered regarding hosting weddings and functions.

    We have had a number of discussions with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council over hosting functions and they have ruled that we are unable to host them at all. No matter whether it's a party, casual event or formal function, events of any kind cannot be held at our property. This is due to regulations in the Green Wedge Land Zone where we are and the use of land in The Zone. The Council have begun cracking down on the use of land across the entire Peninsula with dozens of properties in the same circumstances as us. We formerly were not aware that our property breached any of these regulations and still to this day it's all considerably vague.

    We have met on numerous occasions to plead for an exception for your accommodation and event, but unfortunately the council are not going to bend on this matter and are strictly enforcing their regulations. Severe penalties, including ten's of thousands in fines and prosecution apply for beaches of this, therefore we are forced to cancel your event, planned during your stay 10 - 14 December.

    We understand this will severely inconvenience you and we empathise deeply with you. The ruling goes completely against our wishes and we are extremely disappointed to be delivering this bad news to you.

    As you can imagine, it has affected multiple other bookings as well as being detrimental to our business, so in some respects, we know how you feel.

    With this ruling in mind, there are a few actions we must present to you for a decision by close of business this Friday, the 29th of May.

    Option 1:

    You are welcome to stay with us during your planned dates, if you choose to do so, we can offer you a 20% discount on your overall accommodation cost. During your stay no events must be held and the total people on the property must not exceed 20 (13 in-house guests and 7 visitors).

    Option 2:

    We can provide you with a full refund of all monies paid and cancel your reservation.

    In addition to these options, we are able to assist you with finding another venue and would be happy to contact wineries in the area on your behalf to gauge costs and availability. If you want us to do this, I would like to speak with you about your function to understand which properties would suit your needs.

    Again, please accept my sincerest apologies, if you wish to contact me at any stage please email or phone me on 1300 .........

    I will await your reply.

    d regards,
  2. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

    11 July 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hi Tyearone

    First, no doubt it's a very stressful experience given all the effort that goes into such an event.

    If you feel pressured by their request for a response by Friday one option is to explain that the email arrived very unexpectedly during a busy time and you will require more time to weigh up a few factors before informing them of your approach going forward.

    You mention that you booked the venue, signed a contract, and paid the deposit one year ago. As your first port of call, you can review carefully the terms and conditions set out in the contract. This can be a bit daunting if the language is complicated and you feel stressed, so maybe do it with your partner in a calm moment. Look especially for any clauses with headings like 'cancellation', 'consequences of cancellation', 'cancellation fee', 'termination', 'supplier obligations' or 'force majeure'. If the terms are favourable to the holiday house (likely so if the contract was drafted by them), you still have some options in your pocket.

    For example the email from the holiday house while disappointing and unexpected still makes mention of a couple of things. The first is a full refund and offer to assist you in finding an alternative venue. Those venues might not be appropriate in your view, or might be appropriate but with certain drawbacks, such as more expensive and not as nice, however it may be worth exploring those options to see if there's anything that meets your needs. Going forward an imperfect but effective solution might possibly be to try to work with them to try to find a new venue.

    As an aside and hopefully without overwhelming you with detail, a council can change its regulations from time to time, such as changes to zoning and planning regulations, and these changes can affect the ability of a party to perform its obligations under a contract, however the council itself as an external party to the contract does not itself nullify a contract. In order to understand how the council's changes affect rights and obligations of parties under a contract it's best to read the contract itself.

    Let us know if any of the above is unclear and how it goes.
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