Employment Lawyers Can Answer Your Employment Law Questions
Yes I have spent the money as I didn't realise they were paying money into my account as my future husband was putting cash into my account for expenses our forthcoming wedding
Hi sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. First of all I should clarify that there is no 6 month time limit as you have been advised for the employer to pursue this. In fact under law they have up to 6 years to take this further if they wanted to.
As far as your legal position is concerned, if someone has genuinely been overpaid by their employer, then that is not money to which they are legally entitled and it should be repaid.
However, an employee may be able to use the legal defence of ‘estoppel’ to resist an employer's recovery of an overpayment. One of the main cases dealing with this is that of County Council of Avon v Howlett. The employee was a teacher who was paid more sick pay than he was entitled to. The teacher queried the overpayments with the employer but was assured they were correct. By the time the Council had realised their mistake, the teacher had spent most of that money. The Court of Appeal held that the defence of estoppel prevented the employer from recovering the whole sum of the overpayment.
The way estoppel operates is that if the following conditions are satisfied, then an employee should be able to use it as a defence to resist the recovery of an earlier overpayment:
So whilst there is nothing stopping an employer from pursuing a claim to recover an overpayment, if the above conditions are satisfied then an employee could raise the defence of 'estoppel' and prevent the claim for proceeding any further.
I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you
Ok thank you for the answer Ben. I do have a letter from the finance dept to apologise for their oversight - basically the manager didn't inform the wages dept to stop paying my wages once the TUPE transfer took place, so it was definitely their error. I have spent the money in the account on our wedding expenses, as I genuinely didn't realise the money was still going into the account from them, and thought my future husband was putting cash in there (which he was) to cover wedding expenditure. So I guess what I should do is wait for their solicitor letter to arrive, and use the defence of estoppel or agree a payment plan with them to pay the money back - half of me thinks that it wasn't my money that I spent so I should pay it all back but then the other half thinks that it was their error which I didn't know about until the letter dropped on the mat, so why should I pay it back?
I understand your reasons for not wishing to pay but even if it was their error but remember that even if that was the case legally it was not your money in the fist place - errors do happen but it does not mean we should be allowed to take advantage of them. Still...you have nothing to lose by raising this argument at the early stage with the employer now
Thank you so much for your advice Ben, I will contact the employer and state my case, mentioning "estoppel", if it doesn't work, I will just have to pay back what I can, when I can.
I will now rate you to close this question down.
you are welcome, hope you resolve this to your satisfaction