Noe Refundable deposit

The venue for the wedding was booked 16 x months in advance. A deposit of $1500 paid which agreement states is none refundable. However the venue failed to disclose all council conditions in place. Once we discovered these conditions we knew this venue was not suitable. We gave 14 x months cancellation but they refuse to refund any of the monies paid at deposit. As per the agreement signed this means no refund is available. However on moral and general fairness this does not seem right. Are we able to challenge this? The venue did nothing to earn this money except hold the date for a 5x a week period.

Asked on March 16, 2017 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You write that they did not disclose "Council" restrictions to you. If those restrictions are not restrictions put in place by a private venue itself, it did not have an affirmative obligation to disclose them--i.e. if they put in place by a municipality, county, homeowner's association, etc., the venue does not have to disclose them to you, since it is not their obligation to appraise you of the law. (They are not your attorney or legal advisor.) Rather, you must make sure that what you want to do is allowable in the area you wish to do it. In this instance, the fact that restrictions were not disclosed would not provide a legal basis to receive an otherwise nonrefundable deposit back.
The failure to disclose restrictions could, however, provide a basis to get your money back in the following three situations:
1) The venue is part of the government (e.g. a government agency or department) which imposed the restrictions--in that case, if they are part of the body limiting what you could do, they would have to disclose the limitations and the failure to do so could be fraud.
2) It would be fraud if they affirmatively stated or represented that they could do something which they cannot--that is, while (if a private venue) they do not need to tell you about the law or similar restrictions generally, they cannot actually claim to be able to do things or provide services which they know, or reasonably should know, they cannot. 
3) Even though they do not need to affirmatively "brief" you on the law, they can't lie: if you asked them whether they could do or accommodate X and they said, sure, we can do X when they cannot, that would be fraud. It would be the active misrepresentation of what they could or could not do that may be fraud.
If there was fraud, fraud would provide a basis for rescinding the contract and getting your money back, though you'd need to sue them if they will not voluntarily repay it.


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