My daughter signed a contract for 10 martial arts lessons. She paid the full amount, £300 up front. After 2 lessons she decided it wasn't for her and asked for a refund.

The club pointed to the line on the agreement that said "no fees are transferable or refundable" and offered to carry over the sessions in case she changed her mind.

Is this blanket treatment of all fees an unfair contract term? Can her payment be seen as an advance payment and perhaps have a fairness test applied? Does the term put the club in a far stronger position than the customer with respect to such a term.

  • Having recently asked a someone similar question and left with a dearth of suitable answers, I wish I could, but can't help ya (especially in the UK). I'd suggest consulting an attorney if you can get a free consultation. Otherwise, it probably won't be worth your money to legally pursue this.
    – A.fm.
    Feb 22, 2018 at 0:05
  • I think you're probably right. Consumer issues in the UK have always been a grey area. Ordinarily I'd have said she had no chance but she paid upfront in full so the gym are getting money for nothing and could be gaining a further set of fees from replacing her. To the layman that would seem to be unfair but the law has other definitions of fairness. Feb 22, 2018 at 11:41
  • 2
    Just an update. I wrote to the gym quoting the Act, specifically the provision about balance of fairness. They agreed to refund 80% of what I asked for.A good result, often writing in plain English helps. Still no idea what the stuff below about voidable and reading-down was on about! Mar 2, 2018 at 16:34
  • Glad to hear that. Interestingly, an example of reading down is here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_3_of_the_Human_Rights_Act_1998
    – A.fm.
    Mar 2, 2018 at 23:24
  • In another nearby country the rule is that they must give you a refund if a subscription has no value for you. If they gave your daughter the right to send someone else in for the remaining 8 lessons then they wouldn't have to give a refund, but if they refused anyone else to take the lesson, then the remaining eight lessons have no value to her and they'd have to give a refund.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 23, 2022 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


On the face of it, it is a void provision since there are, by law, some circumstances where the consumer is entitled to a refund (e.g. where the supplier fails to deliver the services).

However, if there is a “reading-down” provision along the lines of “to the extent permitted by law” then the term is neither void nor unfair. Service providers are not obliged to give refunds if you change your mind.

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