QLD Wedding Venue will not refund deposit

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28 January 2015
My fiancee and I have split up and have notified in writing to our venue that we are no longer getting married. The wedding wasn't until the 24th of September 2016. There is absolutely no compassion or grace from the venue as they are refusing to refund $4000 as per their contract stipulating that they retain the deposit in times of cancellation.
My question is, should I not be entitled to a refund under contract law or Australian consumer law, if they can resell the date to another couple? (Which they have ample time to do so!)

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Susietran,

I'm sorry to hear about your split! Unfortunately, venues are allowed to retain some or all of deposits paid. This is because you signed a contract with them, which is generally enforceable. The good news is, this deposit amount must be reasonable and cannot be so much that it constitutes a penalty on the person. "Penalty" has a legal meaning, and what constitutes a penalty differs depending on the circumstances and you may need to speak with Fair Trading Department of your state or territory for this. As a rule of thumb, a "reasonable" sum includes how much the venue provider has already spent (time and money) in performing the agreement, how much risk they agreed to take, how likely they are to find another couple to take the time slot, what % the deposit is to the whole amount.

Even though most businesses return deposits as a matter of good will, they may not necessarily be legally obliged to do so. Best to contact Fair Trading for more information.
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LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
Hi Susie,

Sorry to hear about your problem. The lesson here is to read all contract terms carefully and discuss any that are unclear or seem unfair BEFORE you sign. If you are not happy with their response, ask them to change the contract. If they refuse to change the contract you have a fairly good indication that they will enforce those terms. The law does provide some relief from unfair contracts however it is unlikely you would get all your money back.

I agree with Sarah - contact Fair Trading, but don't hold expectations that you will get all your money back.
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