What to do if I am a wedding photographer and recently had a client that decided after signing her contract that she couldn’t afford me?

UPDATED: Jan 16, 2014

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What to do if I am a wedding photographer and recently had a client that decided after signing her contract that she couldn’t afford me?

We were going back and forth for months about it and I finally told her I would return half of her deposit if she decided to cancel her contract. I then took last month off of work to get married and move. All of my clients were aware of this. Once I got back from my wedding, I had hundreds of emails to respond to. It took a couple weeks to get back to everyone. I now have this brides mother saying that she is going to take legal action against me because I didn’t issue her refund in a timely manner. No where in my contract does it say a refund will be given, can she sue based on timliness?

Asked on January 16, 2014 under Business Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

She can *try* filing a lawsuit, but will lose--you should be able to get the matter dismissed early on:

1) There is no inherent right to a refund, so the refund is only being issued because you voluntarily chose to provide one.

2) If there was nothing in writing obligating you to a date for a refund, your only obligation is to provide it in a reasonable time; when there is no date certain and the refund is voluntary, it would be difficult to sustain the claim that you were unreasonable in when you provided.

3) Even if you were in the wrong, the most she could recover would be her foreseeable damages--basically, the interest she could have earned on this amount of money in a few weeks, which is a few dollars at today's interest rates.

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