Couple sues wedding hall over cancellation fee

The coronavirus pandemic has led a couple and a wedding venue operator in Japan to sue each other over a cancellation fee for a wedding ceremony.

The couple living in the Kanto region has just filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against the operator of the wedding hall in Tokyo.

The man in his 30s and the woman in her 20s argue that it is unjust for the operator to demand a fee for cancellation under unavoidable circumstances.

The lawyer for the couple says they had planned a wedding ceremony and reception at the hall in June last year. He says they told the hall the cancellation was due to a coronavirus state of emergency declared in April last year.

The lawyer said the venue operator asked for about 30 percent of the estimated total cost as a cancellation fee. But after the couple rejected the proposal, it demanded the entire estimated cost of more than 2 million yen, or over 18,000 dollars.

The husband claims it is wrong to blame a consumer for causing damage with a cancellation as businesses can receive government subsidies for the pandemic.

In May this year, the hall operator also sued the couple, demanding they pay the cancellation fee.

The company says it was possible for the couple to hold the ceremony because it was scheduled for after the state of emergency expired. It adds that if no cancellation fees are charged across the board, businesses will be driven into bankruptcy.

The focus of contention in the cases will likely be whether the pandemic should be regarded as an unavoidable reason for a cancellation as in the case of a natural disaster.