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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50702
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I had been off term sick from my teaching job and decided to

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I had been off long term sick from my teaching job and decided to take early retirement in June 2017. My, employer, the local authority paid me and calculated all payments to me which I received inn good faith.They now admit they have made an error and overpaid me by £3100.18. They are demanding I repay that amount and are threatening me with their Legal Services.I would like to know where I stand please as I am now on a pension and have no funds with which to pay them?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you Ben

So when did they contact you regarding the overpayment?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
No it will be fine on here as I don't have a lot of money as I am only on a small pension from the same employer who is demanding I pay back their error which they admit to

No problem at all. Please do provide the information requested so that I can advise. Thank you

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The letter says 26th September 2017 but I don't think that is the case as their follow up was 14 days later and their threat of legal services is 14th November
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
the letter dated 26th September appears to be a photocopy

OK, thank you for your response. Leave it with me for now and I will review the relevant information and laws and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. If someone has genuinely been overpaid at work, the employer may rely on the common law remedy of restitution based on a mistake of law or fact to recover the overpayment in the civil courts. Restitution attempts to prevent the unjust enrichment of the worker at the expense of the employer.

If a claim for recovery is made by the employer, the employee may be able to use the legal defence of ‘estoppel’ to resist it. The case of County Council of Avon v Howlett dealt with this issue and identified three conditions that must be met for estoppel to succeed:

· The overpayments were made due to an error by the employer

· The employee genuinely believed they were entitled to the money, or did not even realise that they were being overpaid. It would not include turning a blind eye when they knew they were being overpaid

· The employee has since 'changed their position', meaning they have spent the money in question. However, this does not mean just spending it on usual items of expenditure, such as rent, mortgage, bills, everyday spending, etc – there must have been a significant, precise or substantial change of position.

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' in court and potentially resist the employer’s claim.

Even if this defence does not work and a court still finds you responsible to repay them, they will take into account your financial position and likely only order a periodic repayment for an amount you can afford each month.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

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