Consumer Protection Ireland has provided the following guidance:
in regards to refund of booking deposits paid in advance for a wedding postponed due to pandemic restrictions:
If you have found it necessary to postpone your wedding day, and any of your wedding suppliers have not been able to change to your new wedding date with the same quality standard of service you originally booked them for, which includes the same day of the week as your original booking, you are eligible for a full refund of any part payments made in advance including booking deposits. But only if your wedding day can’t proceed as originally planned due to government restrictions in place on that date. This also includes government restrictions in place limiting the numbers of guests. If you postpone your wedding to a later date, because your original date has restrictions on the number of guests, for example you had invited 300 guests but you are now limited to 100 guests, and you want to postpone your wedding date to ensure that everyone on your guestlist can attend, you are entitled to any refunds due for booking deposits paid on your original date.
However if there are no government restrictions of any kind in place on your original wedding date, you are not entitled to a refund of booking deposits if you postpone your wedding “just in case”.
According to the consumer laws in Ireland, a booking deposit is not a separate fee. A booking deposit is a part-payment of services to be provided on a certain date.
Direct from the Consumer Protection website:
When you buy goods and services you are sometimes asked to pay a deposit e.g. if you order furniture or book a wedding venue. When you pay a deposit you are paying a percentage of the price of a good or service and it means you are entering into a contract with the business. In general and in normal situations you will be entitled to your deposit back:
- If the business cannot deliver the goods or provide the service you agreed to purchase.
- If the business cannot deliver the goods or service on the agreed delivery date and the new delivery date is not acceptable to you.
However, given the current situation we are in due to COVID-19 we would suggest that in the first instance you talk to the business to see if you can make an alternative arrangement that suits you both. If not you should try and negotiate with them to see if you can get some or all of your deposit back.
If after following the above step you are not happy with the outcome and you have bought instore and the business refuses to return your deposit, you may have to take legal action. If your claim is less than €2,000, you can use the Small Claims procedure to try and resolve the issue. If you place a deposit or part payment online you have a right to cancel the contract and seek a refund, with some exceptions. For more information see our buying on-line section.
If you change your mind about the good or service and decide not to go ahead with the contract, the business may not be obliged to refund you your deposit. If it is not set out in the terms or conditions or you did not agree anything at the point of sale, the business is not obliged to refund you the deposit.
You can read the full web page here on the Consumer Protection Ireland website:
If your supplier contract doesn’t specifically include a pandemic “Force Majeure” or “act of God” clause, or you have no written contract with your supplier at all, and the supplier has not spent any chargeable time or incurred any chargeable expenses for necessary preparations for your wedding day, then a full refund of any money paid in advance including booking deposit is due and payable to you.
If you contract or quotation from any wedding supplier states “booking deposit is non-refundable” that is not sufficent legal grounds for any wedding supplier to keep your booking deposit or money paid in advance if your wedding must be postponed due to pandemic restrictions in place on your wedding date, unless they have already completed some or all of the necessary work or incurred in preparing for your wedding day.
For correct legal advice regarding your right to a refund you should always refer to Consumer Protection Ireland.
Warning on Obtaining Legal Advice from a Supplier’s own Trade or Industry Association
You should never obtain legal advice regarding refund of booking deposits from a supplier’s own trade or industry association, especially if a supplier advises you to do so. The danger for any consumer in obtaining refund advice from a supplier’s own trade or industry association is that the association exists to support their industry members, and as is the case with one known trade/industry association known to be created and run by a wedding supplier who is refusing to refund booking deposits, their advice to consumers by trade/industry associations may not always be in the best interests of a consumer who is seeking a refund.
The first place you should contact for legal advice regarding refund of booking deposits of any kind is always the Consumer Protection government agency.
Consumer Protection Ireland is run by the Irish government and should always be your first point of contact for any questions regarding your right to a refund. They are there to help you at all times.
You can contact Consumer Protection Ireland here:
Helpline: 01 402 5555