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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 40519
Experience:  Specialist in UK Legal Matters
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My daughter attends a private school. I have given notice

Customer Question

My daughter attends a private school. I have given notice in writing on the first day of this term, her last day is next week. I assumed I adhered to their t&c which state:

"Notice of the withdrawal of a pupil must be given in writing to the Head on, or before, the first day of term at the end of which the pupil is to leave, otherwise the following term’s fees are payable in lieu of notice. The School reserves the right to retain the deposit towards settlement of this liability, and charge the difference between the term’s fees and the deposit."

I believe I should only have to pay this term's fee less the deposit, but am sensing the school disagrees. Could you please advise?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.


Thanks for your question. Please don't forget to press Accept once you get my answer. For now please let me know:


1. Why do you believe they disagree?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

They indicated that because my daughter is not staying until the last day of term as stated in their t&c.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
When does the term end?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This spring term has started on 6/1 and runs till 30/3. I am querrying it because it does not mention they need a full term notice and my daughter is not leaving at an end of term.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
So you agree that you have to pay this whole term's fees, even if she is not there for the full period, but want to avoid paying next term's fees?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
yes. I'm fine paying this term's fee but expect my deposit back and do not want to pay next term's fee.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Whilst reading and interpreting the clause in a direct way may suggest that the pupil must wait until the end of the term, in or before which the notice was given, the actual application and enforceability of such clause would depend on a number of separate factors.


A more important aspect would be when the notice was submitted, rather than when the pupil left. If you met the requirement for giving notice (i.e. on or before the first day of term) then that would matter more than whether your daughter left partway through her final term. This is especially true if you have paid the final term's fees because the aim of a cancellation clause is to compensate the other party for reasonable losses arising out of the cancellation. If you have paid the final term's fees, then even if your daughter leaves partway through it, you can argue that the school has not lost any money as a result, in fact it would be in a better position as it does not need to provide any services but has still been paid. Therefore, if they wish to claim that you have not adhered to the clause because she has left partway, then you can argue that this turns the clause into a penalty clause rather than just a cancellation clause. Penalty clauses are unenforceable and often illegal and would not hold up in court.


So if the school wishes to rely on that argument, you can reply that you are treating the cancellation clause as a penalty clause and that it would be unenforceable.


I hope this helps. Please press the ACCEPT button. You would still be able to ask any follow-up questions if necessary. Many thanks

Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 40519
Experience: Specialist in UK Legal Matters
Ben Jones and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
so there's no clear cut answer to who'd be right and the t&c can be interpreted different ways?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
The T&Cs can be interpreted in different ways, but if the clause is seen to be a penalty clause (i.e. charging you for more than their reasonable losses would be) then it won't be enforceable. In your case if you gave them notice as required under the clause but the only thing that you didn't do was let your daughter stay until the end of term, they can't justify that they are allowed to charge you for another full term for that reason alone

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