Legal language needed for wedding contract
December 17, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

How should I word a clause in a contract which states that we will receive a refund on our deposit for a wedding reception venue if that business is sold or goes out of business?

YANML, but: I am about to sign a contract for the venue where we will be having our wedding reception in about 18 months. In reviewing the contract, the only issue I saw was that there was no clause about receiving a refund on our deposit (half the venue rental fee, due upon signing of this contract) if this place is sold or goes out of business (unlikely, but we're a ways out and I suppose anything could happen). I pointed this out to the owner, and she was fine with me inserting the language saying that they will refund us whatever we've already paid them if the business changes hands (if that prevented us from using the space) or went under.

I have no idea how to word this (and the one attorney I know is unreachable at the moment--trying to figure this out, sign, and return the contract ASAP). The contract itself is written pretty clearly (i.e. not wrought with convoluted legalese) so I don't think this needs to be anything complicated. Can someone give me a clue or point me in the right direction of some boilerplate language I could adapt?
posted by lovableiago to Law & Government (6 answers total)
 
if this place is sold or goes out of business

Why would you care if it's sold? If, in 17 months, the business changes hands, wouldn't you rather the new owner honor the contract rather than giving your money back?

And if it goes out of business--presumably because of bankruptcy--your claim will be with the rest of the creditors and you won't get your money back except through receivership.

I'm not sure what you think you're accomplishing here.

This is not legal advice and I am not your lawyer. Wait for your lawyer to call you back.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


How about just writing: In the case of "name of establishment" ceasing operations for any reason before [date] or changes hands before [date] a full refund of deposits will be issued to [check writer]". ?

Other than actually going to any lawyer and paying to get the language I think just being specific as possible may well cover what you want. It doesn't necessarily have to be in super fancy language. Be clear, be specific.
posted by edgeways at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. Without having seen the contract you're trying to revise or knowing what jurisdiction you're in, I couldn't give you legal advice anyway. Moreover, on a personal level I agree with the sentiment behind Admiral Haddock's comment.

However, in terms of answering your question I can tell you on a very generalized level that your instinct is good: contractual language needn't be complicated. Generally speaking, I think private parties create more work for themselves and potentially cause trouble when they go seeking boilerplate language for their homemade contracts instead of simply writing in plain English what they hope to accomplish.

The caveat is that occasionally specific language will be required to accomplish a purpose. Sometimes there are statutes that actually say, "You must include this sentence in your document." That's partly why you hire a lawyer to provide legal advice. He or she will know whether specific language is required, and/or the potential consequences of including it or not. Unfortunately, there really isn't any Internet shortcut (LegalZoom, AskMe, etc) to this type of advice.

Good luck, and congratulations. I hope your wedding is fun.
posted by cribcage at 8:30 AM on December 17, 2013


I have been on the other side of this contract. I worked in accounting at a company which owned a beautiful, quaint country inn that hosted 2 or more weddings a week. When that company went out of business (sketchy owner) no deposits were paid back. Ever. Heartbroken couples went on the local news about their ruined weddings. People called, begged and cried but there was no money to pay back the deposits. I doubt your company will shut down but if it does a contract will not help you.
posted by saradarlin at 8:56 AM on December 17, 2013


I agree with Admiral Haddock. If the venue calls off the wedding for whatever reason, they're in breach of the contract and you can sue to get your deposit back. You don't need language in the contract specifying that you're entitled to your deposit back if the venue breaches; that's a matter of contract law, and it won't give you any greater legal rights to have it spelled out.

Additionally, if the venue files for bankruptcy, this sounds like an ispo facto clause that may not be enforceable in the bankruptcy, and if they did refund you just prior to filing, that would likely be avoidable as a preference.

IANYL
posted by payoto at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2013


This seems like a ton of worry and fuss trying to protect you from a scenario that you yourself said was "unlikely".

Dude. Wedding planning is stressful and crazy enough as it is. I just got married a couple months ago, I seriously know how insane wedding planning can be. You have about a zillion other things that need to be sorted out. Spent your time and energy on those. Risking losing your deposit is sort of part of the game. You have to give a deposit, and there is always a chance things could go bust. I get why you want to protect yourself as much as possible, but I think there isn't a whole lot you can do, and you're running the risk of spending a lot of time and effort on something that basically isn't necessary.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:09 AM on December 17, 2013


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