Commerzbank Ag v Price-Jones: CA 21 Nov 2003

The respondent had received a bonus of andpound;250,000. His employers wrote to him in error increasing it. He later chose to stay rather than take redundancy because he now expected the full amount. He resisted an order for restitution. The employer appealed.
Held: The judge had not focussed sufficiently on the terms of the letter. ‘As the Bank mistakenly made an overpayment of andpound;250,000 to Mr Price-Jones on 15 December 2000 it is entitled to restitution of that sum, unless Mr Price-Jones can establish that his position so changed that it is inequitable in all the circumstances to require him to make full restitution to the Bank. ‘The defendant had to demonstrate a sufficient causal link, in this case between the offer and his not leaving the bank. However in this case there was no ‘disenrichment’ and no reason in equity for him not to make restitution. The appeal was allowed.


Lord Justice Mummery Lord Justice Sedley Mr Justice Munby


Times 26-Nov-2003, [2003] EWCA Civ 1663




England and Wales


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CitedPhilip Collins Limited v Davis 2000
The court discussed the change of position needed to be established by a defendant resisting a claim for restitution of money paid under a mistake: The ‘change of position . . must, on the evidence, be referable in some way to the payment of [the] . .
CitedScottish Equitable v Derby 16-Mar-2001
The claimant company sought repayment of a sum paid in error to the defendant. She replied that she had changed her position as a result of and relying upon the payment.
Held: The court gave as ‘the most obvious example’ of the kind of . .
CitedNational Westminster Bank Plc v Somer International (Uk) Limited CA 22-Jun-2001
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CitedDextra Bank and Trust Company Limited v Bank of Jamaica PC 26-Nov-2001
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CitedCordell v Second Clanfield Properties Ltd 1969
In a fast developing area of law, judges should acknowledge the value of ‘fertilisers of thought’: ‘argued law is tough law . . I would expose those views to the testing and refining process of argument. Today, as of old, by good disputing shall the . .
CitedMaddison v Alderson HL 1883
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CitedSouth Tyneside Metropolitan BC v Svenska International plc 1995
The question was asked as to whether an anticipatory change of position could support a defence to a claim for restitution: ‘save perhaps in exceptional circumstances, the defence of change of position is in principle confined to changes which take . .
CitedSutton v Sutton 1984
The husband and his wife agreed that in consideration, inter alia, of the wife consenting to the husband divorcing her on the ground of two years’ separation and consent, he would transfer the matrimonial home to her, and she would take over . .
CitedX v X (Y and Z intervening) FD 9-Nov-2001
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Equity, Banking, Employment

Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.188224