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Alex J.
Alex J., Litigator
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 3614
Experience:  LLB, LPC, DELF
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We paid to host an film at an cinema. The event definition

Customer Question

Hi
We paid to host an film at an cinema. The event definition is
Event:" the event for which Hirer has hired a cinema auditorium and/or other part of a cinema."
However, the release date of the film got changed after the contract was signed and the company has enforced event cancellation charges as we did not cancel in enough time so a 50% cancellation fee was applied. THe new release date was no longer convenient to us. I was thinking that possibly the contract is void? because of the date was changed and so the enforcement of the cancellation charges is not valid?
Kind regards
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. Please can you clarify the exact nature of the service? Were you hiring the space in order to exhibit the film? Or were you paying the cinema to show the film? Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We actually paying the cinema to show the film, we paid for a total number of guests which was the whole capacity of the cinema- food and drinks package too. The cinema company told us the date of the film release had been put back to the following week which was no longer convenient. We indicated a new "likely" preferred date but did not confirm it at all. The cancellation charges are as follows:
a) If Hirer has to cancel or postpone its confirmed booking at any time prior to the Event, such cancellation must be notified to ODEON in
writing and the following scale of cancellation charges will apply.
i) 75 or more days’ notice: no charge;
ii) 65-74 days’ notice: 25% of the Price;
iii) 45-64 days’ notice: 50% of the Price;
iv) 31-44 days’ notice: 75% of the Price;
v) 0-30 days notice: 100% of the Price.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. Does it say any where in the terms and conditions that they reserve the right to change the date where it is outside their control?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Amendment and Cancellation by Odeon
a) Should ODEON, for reasons beyond its reasonable control or for operational reasons, need to make any amendments to the booking, ODEON reserves the right to off an alternative choice of facilitiesmentions Sales of Goods Act 1979 (not excluded)
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. I am afraid that I do not think the contract will be void unless you specifically agreed that the date was fundamental you actually agreeing the contract. Are they flexible on the re arranged date or will they only offer you one date? Would you still do the showing if you could agree an appropriate date? Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was sort of thinking that they have made a new offer(date) which we never agreed to. The original date was a fundamental in the sense that was the opening release date and did not fall into school half term week. The new opening date fell into school half term week, they still offered the opening night and were fairly flexible about other dates. The cancellation fee is about £15k. We cancelled the event saying unfortunately due to circummcumstances beyond our control we need to cancel the contract stated date.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. Was the date included in the contract for any reason? Were the cinema actually supplying the film as well? If they were supplying the film and the date was in the contract, then I think you have an argument to you rejecting the new date does not count as a cancellation by you. On that basis you should not be charged the penalty. I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Date, start time and end time of Event: Friday 23 October, 2015 (If the pre-release becomes available you will have the priority to change the dates for your event if you wish)
There is no pre-release. Friday 23rd was the opening night of the film. Yes they are supplying the film from the distributor - Sony.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To confirm we never received a revised contract with a new date.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did the inform them that" due to circumstances beyond our control we wish to cancel the event on 23 October."
(This date no longer exists, anyway)
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi thank you - it only says that Odeon can terminate for circumstances beyond its control. Odeon did not terminate they tried to change the date. When they changed the date you then terminated. As the date was stated in the contract they should not be allowed to unilaterally change it unless such right to do so exists in the contract. In that regard the clause says they can offer alternative facilities but presumably it has to be assumed the date is to crucial to the agreement to change it? - considering what to do next have they given you half the money back?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We paid all the money up front, "cancelled" 57 days notice and they kept 50% of the fee and reimbursed the other 50%. We actually asked them to kindly use some of the fee to host a smaller event which would only cost about 25% of the original fee is we would have been happy them keeping 25pc and moved on. They refused this.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. Could you possibly send me a copy of the contract by pasting it into this link, I can then suggest the wording of how you should respond to them to put pressure on them to refund some of the money - Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
this was my first draft on an initial letter: (we due to give this area manager a call tomorrow) contract attached
Dear Mr ZinzanEvent for Spectre Screening 23 October 2015 – Cancellation charge £15,288In response to the Odeon’s “ The Lounge”decision to charge a 50% cancellation charge in relation to this event we wish to complain.It is our mutual understanding that we agreed to an event date of 23 October which coincided with the Spectre official UK release date and more importantly from our standpoint it did not fall in the Children’s school half- term week. (This drove the decision to hire the whole cinema as we were very confidence in achieving the required capacity) As you are aware on numerous occasions we pointed out to “the Lounge” the evidence on social media sites that suggested the film would be held in the UK on the “global” release date on 6 November 2015. I set out below a very high level summary of the timeline of events leading up to our notification to the Lounge to cancel the planned Event on 23 October.20 July – The Lounge advised that 23 October was not possible and a suggested date change of 26 October was put forward
22 July – 24 July – Some discussion with the Lounge over alternative dates
27 July – xxxxxx advised Odeon that we would not be holding the event.In light of the fact xxxxxx never agreed to the date of the new event we believe a cancellation charge should not have be levied. We note that we gave the Lounge 55 days’ notice to a date which no longer existed and a new event date was never actually determined.We look forward to discussing this matter with you on Thursday.Kind regardsIan
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. I have just received this. I will review today. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Just checking when are you going to reply
Regards
Ian
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. My apologies - I unhelpfully had my laptop replaced yesterday. I will reply today. Again my apologies for the delay. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok,thanks
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. This document says a) there is a formal agreement to follow and b) It also only says what happens if the Hirer cancels. You didnt cancel the event, they did because you were not able to accept the changed date. I would write to them and say:

- They unilaterally tried to change the date;

- You did not cancel reservation you only objected to the change of date;

- You have taken no action to actually cancel the booking;

- Say if they do not contact you in 7 days to reach a reasonable settlement (and say you are open to a smaller viewing on another date) - you reserve the right to commence county court proceeding and complain to trading standards.

Given the sum of money involved this could probably be dealt with in a small claims court, but the fact that they are keeping half the money when they could not show the film on your requested day would be hard to justify in court. Ultimately they are charging you a penalty for the contract not proceeding, the 50% fee cannot be a genuine estimate of their losses.

Kind regards

AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex
Thanks for the reply.
As a reminder the only "notice" we gave was that the "regrettably, due to circumstances beyond our control we need to cancel our event at the lounge 23 October 2015.Separately we indicated a preferred date is likely to be 30 Oct. (no confirmation of this)
Does this alter anything?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. The fact that you used the words "cancellation" gives then grounds to have an argument, but ultimately the contract is to show the film Spectre, if the film is not released then there would haven nothing to show. Did you confirm the alternative date in writing? Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks nothing confirmed only an email saying our preferred date is likely to be....
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Thank you. You can use that as evidence (along with the fact that film was not actually released) that you were only trying to change the date not cancel the whole thing. I think the main way this is likely to be resolved is by the cinema giving you a more suitable, I would be suprised if they insisted on defending on this in court.

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