This is just my opinion, i have never sued nor been sued... so not gonna be of much help.
Im sorry to say but IMO, usually the law favors a consumer. Regardless of evidence with no written contract signed by both, it becomes pretty hard to fight back in a situation like yours. You could attempt to appeal, but i think you have more to lose then to gain in a situation like this.
Like you said you had an oral agreement, you may have a piece of paper stating the date of the event, but it isnt a contract, it isnt a legal agreement, and in any case a good lawyer or even the consumer could simply lie, and that piece of proof could simply mean nothing to a judge etc...
This is why when doing any event you HAVE TO have a few things. I think the basics would be:
-Signed contract (signed by you and the responsible). Detailed, with or without a refund or transfer policy
-A receipt, with date, individual costs or total
-You call confirming making sure... be it 1 week ahead of time or 2 days, you have to double check. If the client is a busy person used to dealing with with things oraly, thats when you watch out, and make sure you have a written document or contract, so a situation such as this doesnt occur.
Even though she gave you the wrong date, you still didnt confirm, if you did, well you didnt specify on the thread.
A piece of paper with a date and an audio, could help, but you have to consider you arent dealing with a crime scene.
You are going to be asked...
Did you provide a receipt?
Did you provide a contract?
Do you have someone to testify that was there?
In the end this is what really matters, you could appeal, HELL YOU COULD EVEN WIN(the probablility is small).... but it will be annoying to have to deal with this, this client could tell others of the incident in their favor. And thats when you think. Do i really want to go through with this?
In my opinion you have more at risk then your client, you client is only sueing you for the money, he/she has nothing to really lose.
In your shoes, i would speak to said person face to face, talk it out, give the client the money back, evade getting sued and as well as evade as getting bad mouthed. And simply tell your client up straight.
"I´ll give you back your money, we end this process, agreeing to disagree, and i won´t cater your event, you can find someone else, this way we avoid personal as well as professional problems, you don´t have to pay me, but at least pay the staff, they shouldnt have to suffer, because of any of us".
I know this is probably what you don´t want to hear, but this is what i would try to do in the same situation.
I have worked at a hotel, and everything be it a cup of ice, or a cork screw we would have it written down, and signed, just to keep track, maintain control and have proof. And even then some people would lie and try to get some pocket change back. I also worked at a restaurant that would do at least 1-2 events per week. Everything was written, their was always a contract or signatures exchanged, and we always called be it a day or 2 in advance to confirm if everything was correct.
You arent dealing with family and even if your client was your friend, he or she wouldnt like to have spent money to have it go to waste.
I wish you the best in this situation, hope you 2 can come to an agreement and hope this situation serves as an eye opener.
Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 7/31/14 at 8:27pm