6.3.3.L5 Updated on:

Overpayments to a bank account

If money is put into your bank account by mistake, the bank or building society is usually entitled to recover the money within a reasonable time. If you do not realise that the mistake has been made and have used the money in a way you would normally and acted believing the money was yours, the bank or building society may not be able to claim the money back. This can be a contentious area of the law and you may need to seek further advice from a lawyer about your case.

If the bank or building society does have the right to recover the money, you could negotiate for smaller repayments over a period of time.

Overpayment of wages or expenses

Where an employer has overpaid you, the employer may want to recover the overpayment by making deductions from your wages. Try and agree that the deductions are made over a period of time so that it does not cause you financial difficulty.

If your employer makes deductions without your agreement, the employer will be in breach of the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003. This is because they will not have paid you the agreed wage for the relevant period because they have taken the deduction from your wage. Because you have not agreed to the deduction it will be an unlawful deduction from your salary.

You could use the fact that there may be a breach of the law to negotiate repayments with the employer. The Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS) may be able to assist with negotiations.

Overpayment of benefits

Overpayments of benefits can happen for many different reasons.  If this happens, you will receive a letter detailing the amount of the overpayment, the reason it happened, proposed repayment terms and how to submit an appeal by asking for a redetermination.

If you intend to ask for a redetermination, you must do so within 21 days of the date of the letter.  Late requests will not usually be considered unless there are exceptional circumstances.  If the outcome of the redetermination is to uphold the original decision, you will be advised in writing and be given details of how you can escalate your appeal to the Social Security Tribunal.

The proposed repayment terms are negotiable but if the proposal is to deduct a weekly amount from benefit payments, the minimum is £21 per week unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Most overpayments are created by genuine error and the department will seek repayment only.  Prosecution is usually only considered where it is in the public interest and intentional benefit fraud has taken place.