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I have a little problem as I signed a contract for an internship but now I realised that I wont be able to take it due to personal circumstances.

I signed it 2 days ago and the internship starts in the beginning of february.

There is nothing mentioned in the contract about the termination before it actually starts. It only says that during the internship i have a termination due of 3 weeks.

Now I am a little worried that there may be some legal issues if I terminate the contract.

closed as off-topic by Philip Kendall, Lilienthal, Snow, gnat, Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 10 '17 at 15:14

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  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – Philip Kendall, Lilienthal, Snow, gnat, Vietnhi Phuvan
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  • You need to talk to a lawyer, not the Internet: we can't advise you on the specifics of Hong Kong law. – Philip Kendall Jan 10 '17 at 12:14
  • Alright. I will see what i can do, thanks anyways! – Oliver Larysz Jan 10 '17 at 12:25
  • You maybe could ask something general like "What can be the consequences of unilaterally terminating a contract in Hong Kong? on Law but I assume it mostly depends on what contract you actually signed and specific legal advice is off-topic there. There are other site or fora where you may be able to at least get an idea of your options but in the end you need legal advice which is something to consult a legal professional for. – Lilienthal Jan 10 '17 at 12:42
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    For me the obvious option would be calling the employer, explaining and asking. – DonQuiKong Jan 10 '17 at 13:15
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    Also, if you terminated the contract today, that would be three weeks notice for the 1st of February. (IANAL) – David K Jan 10 '17 at 13:18
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Inform the employer as soon as possible. Ideally you should have never signed the contract, but that is too late for now. However, acknowledging that you made a mistake is responsible behavior, and we all mistakes.

Being an internship, it is unlikely that your job will have a significant impact to the company's business. Companies usually hire interns with a "low-cost labor with lower-than-average quality" attitude, so they don't expect much to begin with. If they expected a professional commitment, they would have offered a full-time package and possibly hired someone experienced.

Can you be held legally responsible? Technically, yes; practically, very unlikely. To sue you, the company must proof that because of your actions, the company has suffered loses and demand you to compensate. However, legal processes takes time and a lot of money; someone sensible would evaluate the cost of letting you go vs the cost of hiring a lawyer to come after you. Unless you were hired for an important or senior position and finding a replacement is costly, they're likely to just let you go.

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By my reckoning you could give your 3 weeks' notice today a have served it out before your start date.

Either way contacting the company as soon as possible and explaining your situation in a similar way to your question would be the best course of action. You don't need to go into details, just saying you are no longer able to attend the internship due to personal circumstances should be sufficient.

As for legal ramifications, it seems unlikely, but you'll have to consult local legal advice for that.

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Have you read your contract? If you haven't read the contract and you're asking us what's in it, don't do that to us - it's not cool.

The contract should specify the date and the circumstances where it kicks in. The contract should specify that it is effective on your first day of work and when you report onsite for work. Until you report onsite and on that date, the contract is not kicking in - you are not yet an employee of the firm and you can't be bound by an employment contract if you are not an employee of the firm.

The three week notice provision should apply AFTER you have become an employee of the firm. Right now, you aren't an employee so the three-week notice provision shouldn't apply to you.

Reread your contract, confirm everything I just told you with the firm's HR, tell them and email them that you can't make the internship and be on your way to the rest of your life.

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