Reply To: Estoppel (Personal Bar) and HB overpayment recovery


Charlie, is the following a fair summary or over-simple?

Whether you look at private law estoppel, or as public law legitimate expectation, neither of these doctrines will prevent the authority from determining under s75 that an overpayment is recoverable from a person, or from two or more persons. Recoverability is governed entirely by the question what, or who, caused the overpayment. There is a right of appeal against any such determination.

If the determination stands after the appeal process is exhausted, the authority is free to embark on recovery. It does this partly as a creditor taking private action against a debtor, and estoppel may very well come into play in the circumstances described as part of the debtor’s defence to the civil action. The council also acts as a public body using its discretion in the course of its administrative functions, and legitimate expectation may come into play as a ground for JR of the decision to pursue recovery (from A rather than B, or at all).