Some practical perspective on the recovery of misdirected payments

Chips, via WikipediaI’ve written quite a bit on this blog about payors’ rights to recover mistaken payments from recipients. However, a column in today’s Irish Times makes an important practical point about it. A client of bank who had sought to make a payment of €20,000 into his daughter’s account in a different bank. He had the right details, but the payment never arrived in his daughter’s account. Dominic Coyle dispensed his usual sage, common sense, advice, and the banks are now being helpful, so the enquirer and his daughter will probably track down the money. Meanwhile, Dominic added, almost en passant:

By the way, not that it is relevant here, in cases where there has been an Iban error on the part of the person making the payment, repayment will be requested from the inadvertent recipient. However, I am told, somewhat surprisingly, that that depends on the recipient agreeing to the repatriation of the funds. Otherwise you’re apparently looking at legal action which could make your €20,000 look like chips.

So, he’s right that, where there is a mistake, the recipient of the mistaken payment must make restitution of the mistaken payment. However, he’s also right that, if the matter has to be vindicated in court, the costs could be prohibitive (even if, in principle, the costs should follow the event, so that the plaintiff would recover the mistaken payment and also be entitled to costs). But, since I like chips, I won’t agree with his analogy. Instead, I’ll see if I can find a portion like those in the picture for my lunch.