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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70302
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have received a letter from a previous employer stating that

Customer Question

I have received a letter from a previous employer stating that I was overpaid back in November 2014 by just over £900. I left their employ in Oct 2014, and received no payslip in Nov 2014 indicating any kind of overpayment. No money entered my account as they are basically saying that deductions were greater than money paid to the sum of £920 and that I have 7 days to pay. A statement says "we regret that the overpayment has been made, but in accordance with your term and conditions we require you to repay this amount". The amount they say I owe includes over £550 of tax and NI deductions. Do I have any rights to refuse to pay on this based on it being their mistake, for having no notification or monies enter my account to indicate a mistake, and that after 14 months if I have gained, that I have spent the money?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Do you dispute that the payment is wrong?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There are 5 elements to the overpayment. One is to reclaim £190 of flex benefit. I have no idea if this is correct. The £162 NI and £398 Tax I again can't really challenge as to whether this is correct or not. There is also a charge for £2376 which is a charge to me for company car usage, which is correct, there is also a payment to me from share sales of £2207, which is also correct. The net for these 2 elements is approx £170 I would owe them. That part I agree with. My uncertainty primarily relates to the first 3 elements of the charges (£190, £162 and £398 = £750)
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You can obviously dispute this on the basis that you don't owe it. Effectively you would be asking them to prove that you did.
The difficult issue is whether you are liable to pay back amounts that you do not dispute or those that they can prove.
You could argue that you should not have to but it is not really likely to succeed. The starting point is that you are liable to repay. There is a legal doctrine that allows people to avoid repayment but only if they can show that it was entirely the fault of the other party and that they had no way of knowing and that they have changed their position. The first limb and the last of the exercise is easy enough. Overpayments are usually the fault of the payer and people spend money as it has no other purpose. The difficulty is showing that they are literally blameless. Courts will expect that you are able to show that there is no way that you could have known which is hard to do.
Whether they would sue for this sum though or not is another matter.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. That has helped. As part of my 2014/15 tax return I had a tax refund for overpayment (for other reasons not just previous employer related). However. I can see that this would be argued as receiving the monies related to the 2 tax amounts being quoted, which clearly reduces the strength of any case on that front. That only leaves the £190 Flex Cash payment. This is probably the only entry I could challenge, although I very much expect this is based on them paying too much the previous month due to a mid-month leaving date. That would not have been clear at all in any pay advice slips, but that is where I would expect that their claim under this element is being sourced from. A good conversation, thank you. My basic premise for advice was to see if there was potential to defend under estoppel, but it very much feels like that isn't really a solid option. Thanks
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
The doctrine I mentioned above is estoppel.
It is always hard to argue estoppel but you do have a basis for it here.
The chances they will sue over this amount are very low.