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Legal standpoint with Wedding Photography bookings

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User_Removed
30 Nov 2012 - 8:13 PM


Quote: A contract can be any agreement, containing any clauses and inclusions, even a verbal one.

Nick

....or containing no clauses or inclusions.

A verbal offer to buy a good or service and the acceptance of that offer by the buyer (such as signified by something as simple as the seller taking the buyer's money) is a valid binding contract. There is no need whatsoever to have cancellation clauses or anything else.

And don't forget that one of the most useful remedies for breach of contact in law is what is called "specific implement", where the breaching party (in this case the bride) can be ordered by the Court to proceed in full with the contract she agreed to.

Things like forfeiture of deposit or restriction of the amount to be paid in the event of cancellation are, in fact, goodwill concessions made by the seller. He could, if so minded, sue for the full payment.

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30 Nov 2012 - 8:13 PM

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RogBrown
RogBrown  72997 forum posts England10 Constructive Critique Points
30 Nov 2012 - 11:30 PM


Quote: even a verbal one

A verbal contract aint worth the paper it's printed on. Wink

User_Removed
1 Dec 2012 - 9:47 AM

Just to give a different slant on this:

If I were a professional photographer (which I ain't)

and I shot weddings (which I don't)

and I was not worried about my reputation locally (which I might be, if my business depended upon it)

and had no compassion (which I think I have)

Then, if some air-headed bride-to-be booked me to shoot her big day and paid the deposit I requested - and then subsequently cancelled to give her business to a competitor......

then I would keep her deposit and sue her arse off in the small debt court for the balance of the agreed fee. And win.

Sad

thewilliam
1 Dec 2012 - 11:22 AM

As a professional photographer who used to do weddings, on the few occasions when a bride let me down, I muttered some Anglo-Saxon words to myself and then said "next!". I reckoned it was better to spend time and effort doing business than waste it in litigation.

User_Removed
1 Dec 2012 - 4:06 PM


Quote: As a professional photographer who used to do weddings, on the few occasions when a bride let me down, I muttered some Anglo-Saxon words to myself and then said "next!". I reckoned it was better to spend time and effort doing business than waste it in litigation.

I think that is undoubtedly the pragmatic approach, William.

The problem is that, the way some of the contributions in this thread are worded, some less-savvy individuals might not appreciate the fundamental (and often very wide) difference between a pragmatic approach and legal rights.

mikehit
mikehit  46191 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
1 Dec 2012 - 4:46 PM

As above, LF, victory in courts is not guaranteed. If the Photographer cannot justify the level of cancellation fees and those fees are thought to be excessive the contract is void as an unfair contract.

Sooty_1
Sooty_1 Critique Team 41181 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
1 Dec 2012 - 8:53 PM

But if both parties have agreed to, and signed a contract, it makes little difference how 'unfair' the contract seems to be....it's still a contract. In law, I suspect it would have to be proven that one side deceived the other or was economical with the truth to rule against the contract standing.

I don't think the photographer would have to justify any fees if the contract was signed by both parties.

The ethics of it are different to the legality, and treating customers 'fairly' is a good way of maintaining a good reputation, but is not essential, especially when people buy cheap. A lot of people buy from the Internet much cheaper than they can locally, so they shouldn't be surprised when the seller doesn't care about customer relations. Not everything cheap is a bargain.

Nick

mikehit
mikehit  46191 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
1 Dec 2012 - 10:43 PM

Sooty - contracts have been overturned in the courts even though the client demonstrably had been given the T&C. Whether you agree with it or not is one thing, but it does happen.

pulsar69
pulsar69  101611 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
1 Dec 2012 - 11:33 PM

Legal Loopholes and Infinite Wheels of Contract aside , you did right to stear clear and in this game if you get too tied up in paperwork and legalities you will very soon find yourself at the bottom of the pile , photography is an artistic industry, leave the legalities and politics to someone else and concentrate on your own path.

thewilliam
1 Dec 2012 - 11:57 PM


Quote: But if both parties have agreed to, and signed a contract, it makes little difference how 'unfair' the contract seems to be....it's still a contract. In law, I suspect it would have to be proven that one side deceived the other or was economical with the truth to rule against the contract standing.

I don't think the photographer would have to justify any fees if the contract was signed by both parties.

Nick

Nick, you're right when it comes to B2B contracts because the Court, and usually Trading Standards, expect a business-people to be able to look after themselves. But when it comes to contracts with consumers, the Court is more protective and has set aside plenty of contracts as "unfair".

Sooty_1
Sooty_1 Critique Team 41181 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
1 Dec 2012 - 11:58 PM

I never said I agree or disagree, but I haven't heard of it in cases like this, where both parties entered willingly into a contract. Perhaps you could provide details of cases where this has happened?

I am aware of cases where contracts have been deemed unfair for one reason or another, usually over misrepresentation, non-disclosure, coercion and other reasons, but not just over the cost (where the business will claim the customer was aware of the terms before they signed). If it went to court, it would be the claimants responsibility to prove they were not aware of the financial penalty if it appears in the terms and conditions. The fact that the OP doesn't have a copy does not prove that they weren't aware of them.

Sooty_1
Sooty_1 Critique Team 41181 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
2 Dec 2012 - 12:08 AM

By the way, it's interesting how frequently you hear about legislation to protect consumers and how infrequently you hear about legislation to protect businesses.

There are a large number of people who blindly enter into contracts and agreements, particularly online, often with no idea of their actual rights and obligations, then when it all goes pear-shaped whine and moan about their Consumer's Rights. More often than not, businesses will offer full refunds/replacements or whatever as gestures of goodwill, even to (sometimes) obviously devious customers. eBay is a prime example, where 'feedback blackmail' frequently happens.

66tricky
66tricky  7742 forum posts Scotland
4 Dec 2012 - 11:44 PM

ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unfair_Terms_in_Consumer_Contracts_Regulations_1999

thewilliam
5 Dec 2012 - 12:09 AM

When you read about the 1999 and 1977 Acts in this link, notice how the protection is for consumers rather than business customers!

Nick, there's a good reason why you don't hear much about legislation to protect businesses: there's precious little.

Sooty_1
Sooty_1 Critique Team 41181 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
5 Dec 2012 - 5:05 PM

Thus I don't see how the OP can claim an unfair term if they entered willingly into the contract....the photographer will claim there was nothing hidden, that the OP knew the terms and conditions before signing, and that to complain about it after the fact is somewhat disingenuous.

Whether the OP knew or not may be hard to prove, and right or wrong, caveat emptor should apply. The OP should have familiarised themselves with the terms and conditions before committing to the contract.

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