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Can an organization that runs competitions force you to pay a fee for withdrawing from the competition?

San Diego, CA |

I am in charge of a Winter Guard team in So. Cal. WGASC is a non-profit, youth organization which cultivates personal growth through competitive performance opportunities in an organized forum that promotes self esteem, education and freedom of creativity. We pay $475 to enter 5 competitions and a championship. I recently had to withdraw from a comp. and WGASC is now charging my team $200 for withdrawing. Is this legal?

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Attorney answers 3


Sounds like a contract term triggered by the withdrawal. I suggest you review all your documentation and see what you agreed to.

Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.


Did you enter into a contract/agreement with WGASC as I suspect you must have? If you did, was there anything in the contract that discussed a charge for withdrawal? Was there anything said orally before the event that you agreed to regarding withdrawal? These are things to think about.
I hope it all works out for you.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I have been licensed to practice law in California since 1978. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


I agree with the responses provided by the other AVVO attorneys, and would add that the cancellation clause is used in these types of contracts (team-oriented and participation sensitive) because many times there is no other way for the Service Provider to recoup its expenses. For example, the Service Provider relies upon you (and the others that "signed up") in undertaking their expenses to run the competition (examples include staff, facilities, and other services). IT seems to me the $200 will meet the "reasonableness test" if brought before a Small Claims Judge. I recommend that you consider allowing the payment of the contractual cancellation fee.

JAMES GREER is an attorney with offices in Del Mar CA and Boulder CO, practicing in the areas of Real Estate, Business, Construction Law (858.481.9006) ( Please understand, by way of disclaimer, that any response provided to your AVVO question does not mature into an attorney-client relationship and you are always advised to seek out a local attorney so that all of your information can be conveyed and responded to appropriately.