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Solicitor asking for money back!!


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Hi, not sure if im posting this in the right place so I apologise if not. I was involved in a car accident last Aug which was not my fault (i was hit from behind whilst stationary) the third party admitted liability and the claim went ahead. Unfortunately though I suffered a personal injury for which I had to have physio. The solicitors instructed to do deal with my claim for personal injury where contacted by my own insurer, (luckily i have Legal Expenses on my policy). Anyhow after a number of months an offer of compensation was made by the third party in January this year, and I was advised to accept the offer by the solicitors as they felt that it was a good offer, so this is what I did.

 

On the 13th Jan I was told by my solicitors that they were waiting for a cheque from the third party and as soon as they had this, they would forward it on to me. I was also told that the total cost of my claim was £2,940.00 with £440.00 payable to the physio people for my treatment, so I would receive a cheque for approx £2,500.00 through the post. Then on the 23rd Jan I received a cheque for £2,940.00 attached to a letter saying..."we are pleased to enclose a cheque in the sum of £2,940.00 in full and final settlement of your claim.

 

This sum represents settlement on a 100% basis. As terms of settlement have been agreed with the other party, your claim cannot be re-pened at a later date".......so I took it from that, that the £440.00 for the physio had now been sorted, and therefore I received a cheque in settlement on a 100% basis (as the letter read). However as I was still a bit sceptical and because I didn't want any come back at a later date, I rang my solicitors the very same day that I received the cheque (23rd Jan).

 

After quoting my personal ref no, I was put through to the claim handler that had been dealing with my claim. I acknowledged receipt of the cheque, and then said that I was just double checking to see if there was anything else that I needed to do now.....I was told that there wasn't and that the cheque represents full and final settlement. I then asked if I was ok to go ahead and pay the cheque into my bank account and I was told yes, so the next day thats what I did.

 

Then today 12th Feb, I received a phone call from my solicitor asking me to send a cheque back to them for £440.00 as I had received this in error and this was payment for my physio. I told them, but I have a letter saying that the cheque id received was in full and final payment and represented settlement on a 100% basis. I also mentioned that I had rung the same day and it was confirmed to me that this was correct and I could go ahead and pay the cheque in the bank.

 

My claim handler said, "yes I recall our conversation on the telephone but I didnt realise that you had received the wrong amount until later, and so you need to send us a cheque for £440.00 in payment of the physio treatment that you received". I said that I no longer have that sort of money, as it was used to pay debts off and pay bills and I dont think its fair to expect me to return that sort of money when the mistake is clearly theirs and not mine. I have a letter saying that the £2,940.00 is in full and final settlement and represents settlement on a 100% basis AND the same day that I received the cheque I even rang and asked them to confirm that this was correct and I was told that it was.

 

The claim handler said, "in that case then I will have to speak to my manager and I will be in touch later. That was 12.02 this afternoon and since then ive heard nothing. My question is, can they do this?? Issue a cheque, with all the confirmation that comes with that, AND then confirm again on the phone.......then nearly a month later, ring up out of the blue and say.....er sorry but the cheque you received is incorrect and you need to return us some of the money because we've made a mistake.

 

Surely someone would check this things before they are sent out, also I have a unique ref no, so when I rang that day, surely the claim handler should of noticed then, that the cheque id received was wrong. How am i supposed to know these things! I get a cheque through the post with a letter attached to it saying that this cheque is full and final settlement based on a 100% basis, so as far as im concerned thats it!!.

 

BUT to make sure I even ring up and its confirmed again over the phone!. I dont have that sort of money, im out of work and the cheque was used in paying off debts and bills.

 

Can anybody please advise me where I stand on this? Can they really make me hand this money back, even though I haven't got it and its there error.

Edited by citizenB
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Ignore for now until something is put in writing. The fact they never called back should be telling enough.

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I think because you phoned them to check that the amount they sent to you was correct, they cannot do anything. If you had knowingly just taken £440 of extra unsolicited money without calling them, it would be a different matter. If they write to you, just stick to the point that you were advised that £2940 was the full & final settlement and you even checked this by telephone before cashing the cheque. You therefore do not feel any obligation to pay back a portion of a full & final settlement.

 

I doubt they will do anything and will probably just write it off. This is providing all paperwork you have is for an F&F of £2940.

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True brig, but upon checking, it should be in the format of a written request. Not a simple phone call that really could have been made by anyone in the chain.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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surely though should`nt the third parties insurance pay for the physio anyway.....or is that something that insurance companies don`t allow anymore. just a thought

 

That's why it was included in the cheque that was issued by the third party

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thanks very much for all your replies......to uncle bulgaria, what you say is very similar to what my parents said when i told them. My dad said if the letter that came with the cheque said it was for £2500.00 but the actual cheque had been made out for £2940.00 and I knowingly banked that, then yes they would have every right to ask for it back. But because I have it in writing that £2940.00 is in full and final settlement (and i do still have that letter that the cheque was originally attached to)....and that I also rang to check, which again gave them every opportunity to check it further and they chose not to, then I shouldnt be made to pay it back......as in my dads words, im not the solicitor they are and they should know what they are doing and be more secure when sending paperwork/documentation out

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Hi racy Tracy,

 

You do state that in mid January the solicitor told you that £440 would be deducted for the physio , i know its hard when you have used all the money but, you were aware that £440 was not yours to spend ....sorry but it was not yours to spend!

 

I remember a story about a student who had £2k paid into their account by accident, they then went on a shopping spree and p-iss up and blew the lot in a very short period of time. Approx 2-3 weeks later they were contacted by the bank and told of the mistaken deposit and asked for the money back. The student tried to argue that it wasn't their problem and all the money was spent, went to court and found in banks favour as student was aware that money was not theirs to spend. I can't for the life of me remember what punishment student got, but i do know they had to repay money.

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Hi racy Tracy,

 

You do state that in mid January the solicitor told you that £440 would be deducted for the physio , i know its hard when you have used all the money but, you were aware that £440 was not yours to spend ....sorry but it was not yours to spend!

 

I remember a story about a student who had £2k paid into their account by accident, they then went on a shopping spree and p-iss up and blew the lot in a very short period of time. Approx 2-3 weeks later they were contacted by the bank and told of the mistaken deposit and asked for the money back. The student tried to argue that it wasn't their problem and all the money was spent, went to court and found in banks favour as student was aware that money was not theirs to spend. I can't for the life of me remember what punishment student got, but i do know they had to repay money.

 

That is different because it is unsolicited money.

 

In this case they have had a letter confirming a full & final settlement for the £2940 and they even phoned to check that this was correct, before they cashed the cheque. They have done all that is reasonable to check that the £2940 was what they were to receive.

 

I know it is a mistake, but sometimes people can benefit from mistakes, whatever the morals of it are. Having dealt with this type of situation for an Insurers, you will be surprised how many people refuse to repay an amount back and Insurers are very reluctant to take it to court.

We could do with some help from you.

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The only person getting shafted then, is the physio?

 

I would have thought the Insurers would have had to settle the Physio bill, if the contract is with them.

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so, if I stick to my guns and refuse to pay this money back as I accepted the cheque in good faith that it was correct, and because I also have it in writing from the solicitors that the cheque is in full and final payment on a 100% basis, and because I double checked that it was correct by ringing up, I wont be doing anything wrong by refusing to repay the money?

 

I spoke to my brother in law about this last night and his opinion is......when a solicitor sends any letters out they have to be checked and verified ESPECIALLY when the letter contains secure information as a cheque etc. In this case, the same claim handler has been dealing with my claim from the beginning so every time I ring and am asked to quote my ref no, that is so they can put me through to the right person who has been dealing with it. He said what he thinks has happened is......the third party has sent my solicitor a cheque for £2940.00, then my solicitor or claim handler should of deducted the £440.00 from that, and sent me a cheque for the remainder, but they haven't done this. The claim handler has instead, drafted a letter stating that the £2940.00 is in full and final settlement, and then proceeded to send that with the cheque out to myself. This is when she should of realised her mistake and either followed that up with an immediate phone call or another letter explaining the mistake that she had made, but she didnt. Even so, she still had the opportunity to check again when I rang to acknowledge receipt of the cheque, but she didn't. So my brother in law thinks that she may of only realised her mistake, possibly when the physio people got in touch to chase the payment, she has then realised what has happened and rang me asking to return the money. He doesn't seem to think that it will go any further, he suspects that after speaking to her manager yesterday, she will have had a good telling off and been told to write the remainder off as a loss, because he doesnt think the solicitor would take it further, purely based on the fact that I have a letter stating that the payment was in full and final settlement and he says that that would stand up in any court in the land, as that is the last form of contact that I have from the solicitors and so super seeds any other contact either by letter or telephone

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I agree with that.

 

They should have checked the accuracy of the F&F settlement letter before sending.

We could do with some help from you.

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well I haven't heard anything back from them so far, so I hope that what my brother in law says, is going to be the case. As you say UncleB, it is the solicitors who are at fault as they have not deducted the cost of the physio from the cheque, and then them issue another cheque for the remainder......so how can I be at fault for that. Hopefully nothing more will come of it now. I have also checked out the status of my claim on line (as this is something that you can do with this particular solicitor)....and I have copy and pasted below what the last instruction from them reads:-

 

Cheque Sent to Client

We have received the final settlement cheque and sent this to you. We are pleased we have been able to help you with your case and to have brought it to a successful conclusion.

DATE: 23-Jan-2014

So not only do i have it in writing, signed by my personal claims handler, I also have the above.

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I would have thought the Insurers would have had to settle the Physio bill, if the contract is with them.

 

The physio would have been engaged in either the claimants name or the solictors name, if the third parties Insurers included it in a cheque payable to the OP (Which I assume is the cheque we're talking about) then I suspect the physio was engaged in Racy Tracy's name.

 

It would be handy to know whose headed paper the letter attached to the cheque came with, I suspect it's from the third party solicitors

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to Dacouc.....the name on the letter headed paper that the cheque was attached to was MY solicitors name and it was also signed by my personal claim handler, not the third party's......does this make any difference?

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to Dacouc.....the name on the letter headed paper that the cheque was attached to was MY solicitors name and it was also signed by my personal claim handler, not the third party's......does this make any difference?

 

I think the point is that they are your Solicitors, so they are working for you as their client. They are only passing on money obtained from the third party and they don't have the extra £440 to give to the Physio. The third party is not going to give your Solicitors an extra £440 to pay the Physio, so if they cannot get the money back from you, your Solicitors will have to pay this.

 

It is still an error by your Solicitors and they can probably afford to write this off. If they are a large firm of accident management Solicitors, they will have these occasional problems and they will have to write some off. Some of the people they have given the extra money to, won't be able to pay it back.

 

The full & final letter could also be viewed differently, because it is not an F&F from the third party, but purely you own Solicitors passing on the information.

 

Up to you really. Perhaps wait for your Solicitors to contact you in writing. If you cannot afford to pay it back, then that is the situation you are in, which affects the decision you can make.

We could do with some help from you.

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to uncleb....the letter that came with the cheque does say "the sum represents settlement on a 100% basis and as terms of settlement have been agreed with the other party, your claim cannot be re-opened at a later date"........so does that not mean that it is in full and final settlement. Like you say the error is with my solicitors as they have neglected to deduct the physio cost from the cheque before they sent it to me..........just had a thought, could the physio people contact me themselves and ask for the payment?

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Yes the Physio people may contact you for payment, as it is possible your Solicitors could tell them that they have given you the money. This will be particularly the case, if you signed up to the contact with the Physio. This could be a way the Solicitors get out of writing off the money they paid you in error.

We could do with some help from you.

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I was also told that the total cost of my claim was £2,940.00 with £440.00 payable to the physio people for my treatment, so I would receive a cheque for approx £2,500.00 through the post. Then on the 23rd Jan I received a cheque for £2,940.00 attached to a letter saying..."we are pleased to enclose a cheque in the sum of £2,940.00 in full and final settlement of your claim.

 

Maybe I'm being harsh, but to me that says it all...

 

OP knew the claim was settled for £2,940.00 - solicitors told her it was £2,500.00 plus £440.00 for physio.

 

OP knew the amount was paid to her in error.

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to supervillian......yes i was told that £440.00 was for the physio and I would receive a cheque for remainder, but when i did receive my cheque and noticed that it was for more, thats why i rang up. It was then confirmed to me on the phone (by my personal claim handler) that the cheque was correct and I was instructed that I was ok to pay the cheque into my bank, so from that I understood it to be that the physio payment had already been made and thats why I had received a cheque for the full amount.

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Out of interest, when you spoke to them when you received the cheque, did you say "I've got a cheque for £2,940 and I'm only expecting a cheque for £2,500" or did you say "I've got a cheque here, can I cash it"? I'm just wondering how clear you were that you thought they'd made a mistake?

 

In terms of full and final settlement - it is full and final, but you have a bill for physio which is part of what the settlement covers, so that's not a great argument (unless the TP insurer had been the ones to instruct the physio - however they weren't). As has been pointed out above, it's quite possibly the physio who will be the one's to not get paid - and at that point they will probably pursue you - up to you if you want to ignore them - although it hardly seems fair when you've benefited from their service.

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