This concerns UK law.

Last autumn I made some minor alterations to the website of a business owned by a friend, adding their contact info next to the logo in the header of the webpage. I'm fairly new to the whole freelance thing, it's not something I wanted to do but I wanted to be paid for the work that they would essentially be using to profit from (clients would be calling them for work and would use this contact info that I put in the heading for them) and by extension to deter them from trying to use a friend for free labour as given previous things I'd done for them I was concerned it was going to happen. We agreed on an hourly rate, I did the work as requested (and then some that I wasn't originally asked about) and they were happy with the work done. As a kind gesture, I didn't actually charge for this extra work but that's kinda irrelevant.

About two months ago I was on the website while talking with them over the phone (I can't remember what exactly we were talking about or whether it was related to some more work nor not). Considering it was work for a friend (and me being new to the whole "freelance" thing) I didn't put anything in writing, however, I told them if for whatever reason something broke as a result of my code, I'd fix it for them. I'd noticed the work I'd originally done had disappeared and asked them about it, and they asked me to fix it "as per the warranty". I was sure that I only had offered a 30-day warranty (which made it out of warranty), however, they insisted it was 3 months (just about still in warranty). I genuinely can't remember, and I think that the code wouldn't just disappear like that unless someone tried to change it and screwed up. I wasn't in the mood to argue so offered to fix it regardless. The friend knew I was going away a week later as he was supposed to be coming (he didn't in the end). I did try to do work on the site while I was away but had trouble even connecting to it being abroad as I was using mobile data (roaming) though my smartphone as a mobile hotspot, which was practically unusable (Wi-Fi was of similar quality), although I don't feel like I should have to work while on holiday (I literally took the holiday to have a break from work (my day job)).

I had returned to work three weeks after the original request. I'd initially forgot I'd deleted their login information shortly after the work was completed, and when I realised I needed them again I asked them for it. I didn't get a response. A few days later the friend decided he wanted a refund.

I was willing to fix the issue, and still am willing to fix it, however without the access that they need to give to me to honour this warranty I cannot do anything. I'm comparing this to not RMA-ing goods for repair and demanding a refund because they haven't fixed it. Are these situations equal? Can I refuse the refund?

Any additional information I can provide if needed. I'd be really grateful for the advice.


1 Answer 1


Can I refuse to refund a client/friend if they didn't give me access to their website to honour a warranty?

Yes. Based on the circumstances you describe, the client does not appear to be entitled to a refund.

The client's delay in reporting the issue is inconsistent with his subsequent demand that the issue be fixed quickly. Proving the client's awareness that you would be away a week later (from the time he reported the issue, I presume) weakens his allegation(s) in the sense that you breached the contract/warranty.

The client's failure to provide you with the login information that you requested further weakens his allegation that he is entitled to a refund. Your ability to proof his failure/neglect will strengthen your case.

Your opinion that you should not have to work on a holiday is understandable, but from a legal standpoint it is irrelevant unless your contract addresses that issue.

The lesson you appear to have learned already is the need for making a written contract so that disputes like this are easier to solve. For instance, a clause establishing the 30-day warranty would have preempted the client's vexations. Likewise dispositive would be a clause of forfeiture of warranty in the event that the client materially alters the product you delivered.

The Restatement (Second) of Contracts will acquaint you with the principles of contract law. That acquaintance will guide you in drafting/entering contracts so that you don't inadvertently harm or weaken your legal position.

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