Mulvey v Secretary of State for Social Security: HL 20 Mar 1997

The appellant had had repayable awards from the social fund and also income support benefit. Deductions were made from the benefit to repay the awards. Her estate was sequestrated. She argued that the awards should no longer be deducted.
Held: Deductions by way of recoupment for overpayments of benefit were correctly continued after bankruptcy.
Lord Jauncey said: ‘By no stretch of the imagination could the respondent’s exercise of his statutory right be described as diligence for the purpose of the law of Scotland’.
The rule at common law rule was also disapplied: ‘The deductions made by the respondent were not, as in the normal case of compensation in bankruptcy, a result of the bankruptcy, but were made in pursuance of a statutory scheme which was already in operation at the time of sequestration and with which the permanent trustee can have no concern. Prior to sequestration, the appellant had no right to receive by way of income support benefit more than her gross entitlement under deduction of such sum as had been notified to her by the respondent prior to payment of the award by the respondent. This was the result of the statutory scheme and she could not have demanded more.’


Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle, Lord Mustill, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Lloyd of Berwick


[1997] UKHL 10, 1997 SC (HL) 105


House of Lords, Bailii


Social Security Administration Act 1992 167(3), Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 138(1)


CitedFraser v Robertson 1881
A creditor in an obligation undertaken by a debtor prior to sequestration must, after sequestration, enforce that obligation against the estate vested in the trustee and can only seek a decree of constitution there anent against the debtor . .
CitedMacdonald’s Trustee v Macdonald 1938
So much income received by a debtor as exceeds his needs, as determined by the Sheriff, may require to be paid to the permanent trustee. The 1921 Act did not override . .
CitedBradley-Hole v Cusen CA 1953
The creditor was a tenant of rent-controlled premises who had been charged too much rent by his landlord. The bankrupt landlord’s trustee argued that the claim in respect of overpaid rent had been converted into a right to prove the debt in the . .
Appeal fromMulvey v Secretary of State for Social Security IHCS 24-Nov-1995
The claimant had first been granted a loan from the Social Fund. After her bankruptcy, the benefits loan was recoverable from benefits even after the bankruptcy if the loan was not proved in the bankruptcy. The right to recover by deduction was but . .

Cited by:

CitedSecretary of State for Work and Pensions v Payne and Another SC 14-Dec-2011
The appellant sought to recover overpayments of benefits and Social Fund Loans, after the respondent had had a Debt relief order.
Held: The Secretary of State’s appeal failed. The ‘net entitlement principle’ argued for did not exist. The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Benefits, Scotland

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.84121