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Nearly two years after I left my last employer I received a demand for over £1000 because of an alleged overpayment. From the very first letter I have been threatened with debt collectors and phrases like "you must pay" have been used in emails.


I was unaware that I had been overpaid, having chased my former line manager on numerous occasions for both my final payslip and my P45 and eventually contacted the HR director. I was happy that they had finally arrived and I was able to hand in my P45 to my new employer.


I have asked for a breakdown of the calculations but have been sent a spreadsheet with a number of worksheets and complex formulae, and some screen prints of their computer system. I have no experience in payroll so can't verify that their calculations are correct. I have repeatedly asked for a comprehensive explanation (in simple terms) of their calculations.


I have also asked for an explanation on how their error - although they won't admit they they made one and assuming that they have - came about. I haven't had a satisfactory explanation about that either.


I also suffer from a chronic physical illness and was diagnosed with it during my employment there. The stress of this is making me ill. At hospital appointments over the last year, various medical staff have told me in no uncertain terms that I have to keep stress levels down.


I have made it clear to the organisation that I would like a prompt resolution and that they are affecting my health. Their reply was another email with no explanation and further threats to pass to a debt collection agency if I don't reply within a week. Previous emails have given me a fortnight.


Is there somewhere I can take this to for further advice?


Many thanks in advance for any advice.

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You have come to the right place here.

Please follow the estoppel link and that will explain your situation to you.


On the basis of what you say, you have nothing to worry about but you may have to put up with their harassment for a while.

Frankly the best thing that could happen would be if they would sue you because you could then raise the estoppel and that would bring it all to an end

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Thanks BankFodder.


I'm still slightly confused by estoppel and how it applies here. Although my former employer stops short at admitting they have made a mistake, the first letter did say "you have been overpaid". If estoppel applied, wouldn't this prevent any claim of overpayment?


I really don't think I would be able to cope with being sued. The stress of the threats of the first letter last year resulted in me collapsing whilst crossing a busy road - thankfully the cars stopped. I should have gone to the hospital but just wanted to get home.


Once this is resolved one way or another, I'm happy to name and shame. It may surprise / disappoint ... or maybe not.


Thanks again for replying.

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Estoppel prevents the collection of a debt when the recipient of the money had an honest belief it was correctly paid to them at the time and has made financial decisions based upon that being the case. So, if you put the extra money into a piggy bank because you were suspicious you had been overpaid then you have to pay it back. If you received the payment as part of your normal salary and spent it accordingly then they company is estopped from recovering it. In other words they cant sue you to get it back if you honestly thought it was yours.

as for debt collection agencies- there is absolutely nothing they can do and anything they say does not change this fact. All they do is write scary letters or make persistent phone calls. If you receive any communication from one just send a short note saying that the debt is denied and is in dispute so they should refer the matter back to the principal or risk a claim for harassment.

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time also plays to your advantage, how are you supposed to remember events accurately 2 years ago when the employer cannot even send accurate statements of account to you?

Cease further correspondence and let them make their case or shut up

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If they have been persistent up to now then I doubt they will just stop. as stated above don't worry about debt collectors. They can't take action against you other than write scary looking letters mentioning possible court action.


Personally I would write and invite them to put up or shut up. Say that any action to recover the money will be vigorously defended. You also need to stress that the failure to engage in meaningful dialogue or to justify the claim will be brought to the court's attention

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.






If I have been helpful in any way - please feel free to click on the STAR to the left!


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