Do I pay the termination fee if it is not part of the contract?

UPDATED: Oct 22, 2012

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Do I pay the termination fee if it is not part of the contract?

My health club told me to take advantage of reduced fees, a period of 12 months should be agreed. But the agreement does not state any cancallation policy or termination fees. Due to personal issues, I couldn’t make it after couple of months. Now they send me a cancelltion policy that states I owe them 5 months fees for early termination. Can they do that? Is it valid if it is not part of the agreement? What are my options?

Asked on October 22, 2012 under General Practice, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Only terms or conditions that were part of the contract when you agreed to it are enforceable against you; the other party to the contract (the health club) cannot add new terms to the contract after the fact. So if a cancellation fee was not part of the contract which you signed, it should not be enforceable against you.

That said: if the contract was for a given or set time--e.g. for one year--you are obligated for the entire year. That is not a cancellation policy or fee; that is basic contract law, in that a person who signs a contract for a period of time is obligated for that whole time. So if there are still five months to run on your contract, you may in fact be charged for them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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