New South Wales Fairies, this is for you. Here’s the information surrounding contractual and legal obligations pertaining to COVID-19 weddings, according to NSW Fair Trading.
Will I get a refund if my wedding has been cancelled or reduced in size due to COVID-19?
- We suggest you contact your providers to see what options are available such as a refund or credit to hold your wedding later when restrictions are no longer in place.
- Where the wedding is cancelled due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights under the consumer guarantees in the Australian Consumer Law.
- Check the terms and conditions of your contract with each supplier such as the venue, car hire, photographer, and caterer.
- Some contracts may have a clause on pandemics and ‘force majeure’ clauses (sometimes called ‘act of God’ events) covering specific events outside of the control of the consumer and supplier.
- These clauses may allow parties to pause or terminate the contract when it can no longer be performed due to circumstances outside their control.
- If there is no clause, term or condition about pandemics to determine what should happen, but the contract has been affected by the pandemic or restrictions, it may be a ‘frustrated’ contract.
- A ‘frustrated contract’ may happen when an event outside the control of the parties to the contract has occurred, such as restrictions imposed by COVID-19, and as a result the contractual obligations cannot be met.
- If the trader is unable to fulfil their obligations due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we recommend the parties try to reach a resolution so neither party is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged.
- You should contact the business directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.
- We encourage all businesses to work with their customers and treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
- Determining whether a ‘force majeure’ clause applies, whether the contract has been ‘frustrated’ and the appropriate legal remedy can be complex.
- It will depend on the terms and conditions of the contract, your circumstances and the applicable law.
- If you are unable to resolve the issue with your supplier, you may need to obtain independent legal advice to understand your legal rights.
What are my rights when the provider refuses to give me a refund and only wants to arrange a date in the future or credit to use in the future?
We advise consumers speak to their suppliers to discuss what other options may be available. NSW Fair Trading encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
Am I entitled to a refund if my wedding accommodation needs to be cancelled?
You should first approach the provider of each service to see if they are prepared to offer a refund or other remedy such as credit note or voucher. As outlined above, you may also have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed. We encourage all businesses to work with their customers and treat consumers fairly.
Will my wedding insurance cover cancellation due to the restrictions?
You should first contact your insurer to check whether you are covered for your wedding cancellation under your wedding or event insurance policy. If you disagree with your insurer’s decision, discuss your complaint with them and explain the outcome you would prefer.
As part of the insurer’s internal dispute resolution they will have a certain number of days to respond to your dispute. If your dispute remains unresolved, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) for assistance.
The AFCA Significant Event Hotline 1800 337 444 provides priority service for those financially impacted by COVID-19 and who wish to make a complaint about financial products or services.
Will I receive a refund if the business shuts down as a result of the COVID-19 government ban?
We suggest trying to contact the business to discuss a possible remedy. In certain situations you would have to register as a creditor. More information is available on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website.
How is COVID-19 affecting registry weddings?
Visit the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website for more information on registry weddings.
Why are my rights different when cancellation is due to government bans?
Your rights under the Australian Consumer Law may be different when cancellation is due to a government ban because government bans may make it unlawful for the supplier to supply the goods or services.
However, suppliers are required to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to ensure that supply will not be affected by a ban before they agree to supply goods or services.
I bought my wedding dress from an overseas website and am worried it won’t be delivered. Can I cancel my order and get a refund?
If a supplier has accepted payment for your wedding dress, they must supply it to you by the date they have indicated or, if no time was specified, within a reasonable timeframe. You should first contact your supplier to ask whether the dress is still able to be delivered and, if so, when you can expect to receive it.
If the business advises your dress can no longer be supplied, we expect you will receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher. We understand many businesses are struggling to manage supply delays at this time due to circumstances outside their control. We urge consumers to remain patient and anticipate it may take longer than usual for goods to be supplied.
Am I entitled to a refund if I return my unworn wedding dress, shoes, and bridesmaids’ dresses because I no longer need them?
You are not entitled to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law if you wish to return wedding items you have purchased but no longer require. Under the Australian Consumer Law, you are only entitled to a remedy if your product fails to meet a consumer guarantee. The remedy you’re entitled to will depend on whether you have a major or minor problem with the product.
Digital Content Coordinator: Zoe Kanlis
Featured Image: Muir Weddings