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  • FIRST POST
    • leedavies
    • By leedavies 4th Mar 18, 5:18 PM
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    leedavies
    Overpayment - Estoppel?
    • #1
    • 4th Mar 18, 5:18 PM
    Overpayment - Estoppel? 4th Mar 18 at 5:18 PM
    Hi everyone

    Long time since i've posted here so I apologise if this post breaks any rules or is in the wrong place.

    In April 2017, I was off on long term sick with work which ultimately lead to me handing in my resignation. I checked with my supervisor via e-mail whether the notice period could be waived, which he confirmed it could. As a result I gave in my notice, in less than the four week notice period. I received my final pay and heard no more from the employer. In case this is relevant, the employer is a public service.

    Last week, I've received a letter stating I owe them an amount ( less than £100 ) due to an overpayment as a result of my shorter notice period.

    Given the fact that I had not heard anything from the employer for almost a whole year, was unemployed for a while after leaving the employer, and had informed them of my intention to leave. Is it worth contacting the employer and attempting to argue Estoppel?

    ANY advice at all would be massively appreciated.

    Thanks
Page 1
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 4th Mar 18, 6:38 PM
    • 1,475 Posts
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    Manxman in exile
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:38 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:38 PM
    As a law graduate from the '70s I'm often surprised how estoppel is not argued more in overpayment situations. (It was a big thing then).


    You work in the public sector - presumably they have a payroll dept and management structure that can be expected to understand your T&Cs of employment better than you as an employee. After a year it seems a bit late to me.


    But to succeed I suspect you'd have to show that you couldn't be expected to understand that you'd been overpaid. That might be possible, but I suspect employees are expected to understand their payslips - especially when they include some kind of notice payment. I think you also need to demonstrate that you've spent the money and acted in "good faith" in doing so. Can you do that?


    Sorry - sitting on the fence!
    • leedavies
    • By leedavies 4th Mar 18, 6:54 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    leedavies
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:54 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:54 PM
    As a law graduate from the '70s I'm often surprised how estoppel is not argued more in overpayment situations. (It was a big thing then).


    You work in the public sector - presumably they have a payroll dept and management structure that can be expected to understand your T&Cs of employment better than you as an employee. After a year it seems a bit late to me.


    But to succeed I suspect you'd have to show that you couldn't be expected to understand that you'd been overpaid. That might be possible, but I suspect employees are expected to understand their payslips - especially when they include some kind of notice payment. I think you also need to demonstrate that you've spent the money and acted in "good faith" in doing so. Can you do that?


    Sorry - sitting on the fence!
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    Hi Manxman,

    Thanks for the reply. Sounds like Iím talking to the right person!

    Yes they do. The letter I received was from them, with a person from the department to contact etc.

    The payment equates to a few days of pay, so wasnít substantially different from my ordinary pay, and didnít stand out to me as an obvious overpayment. It would have been part of a months paypacket, rather than an individual payment. As I say, I was unemployed for around two months afterwards, so naturally the money was spent. Given that Iíd heard no more from the employer, I had no reason to believe I owed the employer any money.

    Do you think this would be sufficient to argue?

    Many thanks
    • BorisThomson
    • By BorisThomson 4th Mar 18, 6:59 PM
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    BorisThomson
    • #4
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:59 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Mar 18, 6:59 PM
    No, you don't have grounds to argue estoppel. If you'd taken positive steps to confirm the payment was correct then you may have, but simply accepting the payment is not sufficient.

    Might you have been more proactive in confirming the amount had it been too low?
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 4th Mar 18, 7:01 PM
    • 5,018 Posts
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    TELLIT01
    • #5
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:01 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:01 PM
    I suspect the biggest hurdle you are likely to face is that nobody will be prepared to agree to write the amount off, no matter how much they can see the sense in so doing. There is certainly no harm in speaking to them and explaining the situation as you have done here. Chucking in terms such as 'Estoppel' might make them sit up :-)
    • BorisThomson
    • By BorisThomson 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
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    BorisThomson
    • #6
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
    I suspect the biggest hurdle you are likely to face is that nobody will be prepared to agree to write the amount off, no matter how much they can see the sense in so doing. There is certainly no harm in speaking to them and explaining the situation as you have done here. Chucking in terms such as 'Estoppel' might make them sit up :-)
    Originally posted by TELLIT01
    It would certainly give the legal team a chuckle. It's a favourite of armchair lawyers everywhere, but very rarely successful.
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
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    Manxman in exile
    • #7
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:05 PM
    Hi Manxman,

    Thanks for the reply. Sounds like Iím talking to the right person!

    Yes they do. The letter I received was from them, with a person from the department to contact etc.

    The payment equates to a few days of pay, so wasnít substantially different from my ordinary pay, and didnít stand out to me as an obvious overpayment. It would have been part of a months paypacket, rather than an individual payment. As I say, I was unemployed for around two months afterwards, so naturally the money was spent. Given that Iíd heard no more from the employer, I had no reason to believe I owed the employer any money.

    Do you think this would be sufficient to argue?

    Many thanks
    Originally posted by leedavies

    For something less than £100 I'm not sure it's worth pursuing. You work in the public sector - are you in a union? They should advise you. To be honest I cannot advise you what to do.


    I suspect other posters on here will suggest you have no chance of succeeding - and they would probably be right. I just sometimes wonder about estoppel...
    • leedavies
    • By leedavies 4th Mar 18, 7:11 PM
    • 14 Posts
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    leedavies
    • #8
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:11 PM
    • #8
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:11 PM
    I don!!!8217;t work in the public sector anymore, and wasn!!!8217;t in a union for reasons I won!!!8217;t go into.

    As you say, I!!!8217;ll get in touch with them explaining the circumstances hoping that common sense prevails. Thanks everyone!
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 4th Mar 18, 7:23 PM
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    steampowered
    • #9
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:23 PM
    • #9
    • 4th Mar 18, 7:23 PM
    More details are required to make an assessment.

    You'll only get away with an estoppel argument if you can prove that (i) you couldn't reasonably be expected to know you'd been overpaid, (ii) you have 'changed your position (i.e. the money has been spent) and (iii) it would be unjust to require payment of the money now (i.e. you would suffer hardship if you'd have to repay it).
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 4th Mar 18, 7:40 PM
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    Manxman in exile
    [QUOTE=steampowered;73974436]More details are required to make an assessment.

    You'll only get away with an estoppel argument if you can prove that (i) you couldn't reasonably be expected to know you'd been overpaid, (ii) you have 'changed your position (i.e. the money has been spent) and (iii) it would be unjust to require payment of the money now (i.e. you would suffer hardship if you'd have to repay it).[/QUOTE


    steampowereed has explained the position better that I could. Can you establish that position - if you can't, you pay the £100 or so back.
    • ScorpiondeRooftrouser
    • By ScorpiondeRooftrouser 4th Mar 18, 7:49 PM
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    ScorpiondeRooftrouser
    Surely the catch 22 of the whole thing is that if you claim the payment was so small you didn't notice it; it's hard to claim that it's impossible for you to pay back such a tiny amount, or that having it changed your spending patterns. Any money you spent you would have spent anyway, and you'd have to maintain that you are simply unable to raise less than £100 now, surely. I may misunderstand the law.
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 4th Mar 18, 7:49 PM
    • 1,475 Posts
    • 1,117 Thanks
    Manxman in exile
    I don!!!8217;t work in the public sector anymore, and wasn!!!8217;t in a union for reasons I won!!!8217;t go into.

    As you say, I!!!8217;ll get in touch with them explaining the circumstances hoping that common sense prevails. Thanks everyone!
    Originally posted by leedavies

    1. Not being in a union when you work in the public sector is a mistake I think (irrespective of your previous experience!).


    2, Common sense should prevail - but what if it doesn't?
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 4th Mar 18, 8:14 PM
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    steampowered
    Practically speaking, I think it is unlikely that the employer would start small claim proceedings over £100. In reality it sounds unlikely that they would pursue the debt beyond writing the odd letter or the odd phone call.
    • Les79
    • By Les79 4th Mar 18, 9:07 PM
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    Les79
    Practically speaking, I think it is unlikely that the employer would start small claim proceedings over £100. In reality it sounds unlikely that they would pursue the debt beyond writing the odd letter or the odd phone call.
    Originally posted by steampowered
    Depends on how well they can present their evidence I suppose, they might have everything all nailed down and it would be a fairly straightforward case (only having things like estoppel being a valid argument).

    Practically speaking, entering into a repayment plan for £5-£10 a month would also be a good shout. Sure, you *may* be able to argue against it but for a simple life I would personally be inclined to get a repayment plan set up here.
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 5th Mar 18, 11:11 AM
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    steampowered
    Depends on how well they can present their evidence I suppose, they might have everything all nailed down and it would be a fairly straightforward case (only having things like estoppel being a valid argument).
    Originally posted by Les79
    While this is true, this would be a small claim. The organisation could only recover £50 in legal costs (known as 'fixed costs') if it used a solicitor to proceed with the case. The actual cost of starting legal proceedings would probably be much greater - so probably not worth them pursuing it purely on costs grounds.
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