A 26 page summary from Jonathan Kirk QC, has cast significant doubt over the CMA’s guidance on wedding refunds and cancellations.
The barrister, who specialises in financial services regulation and is the only Tier 1 barrister in consumer law, found the guidance was not a fair analysis of the rights of consumers, businesses, and insurers and had been counterproductive in protecting the rights of consumers. Insurers have unfairly relied on this misleading CMA guidance to sidestep their liabilities and shift the cost of couples’ misfortunes onto wedding venues and suppliers.
The CMA’s failure to consult with the industry had meant that they failed to understand the issues. This has already led to the agreement the CMA reached with the Bijou Venue Group contradicting their own guidance.
Initial CMA guidance issued on 30th April 2020 (updated 28th August) suggested that full refunds would be applicable in most cases where a contract had been “frustrated” by coronavirus restrictions. This ill-considered and misleading guidance led to several insurance companies shunning their responsibilities, avoiding settling claims for costs that couples incurred, on the basis that couples should be seeking a refund from their venue and suppliers instead.
Sky News gave a very balanced report which you can read here.
Venues represented by the Wedding Venue Support Group (WVSG) are keen to establish the correct interpretation of the law in order to avoid further distress and confusion for the couples and businesses involved.
There is bound to be uncertainty going forward until the CMA, the WVSG and other parties involved can find a lawful solution that would be considered fair for couples, suppliers and venues and puts an obligation on insurers to meet claims and shoulder their share of the financial burden.
Until then we will, as ever, encourage couples to be patient, where possible postponing their plans rather than cancelling and risking uncertainty and financial losses for themselves, their venue and their suppliers.
If your venue is not a WVSG member
We would encourage venues to join others in the WVSG to help fund ongoing work and have access to advice.
About the author
Written by: Alison Hargreaves
Alison founded Guides for Brides in 1995 and has been advising brides and businesses ever since. She has an unrivalled knowledge of the wedding industry and is part of an international network of wedding professionals and entrepreneurs. Alison frequently appears on podcasts and expert panels as well as judging various wedding awards.