Last month, English golfer Tommy Fleetwood came twelfth in The Open golf championship. Earlier this month, Thomas Fleetwood had the St£120,000 (US$154,480, €133,000) winnings deposited in his bank account. There doesn’t seem anything exceptional in that story, so let’s try again. Last month, British golfer Tommy Fleetwood came twelfth in The Open golf championship. Earlier this month, Florida golfer Thomas Fleetwood had the St£120,000 winnings deposited in his bank account. That’s right – golf’s authorities lodged the winnings to the bank account of the wrong golfer. One of Thomas’s golf friends posted a picture of the lodgement record on twitter. And Thomas duly repaid the wayward deposit. But he would not have been able to keep it anyway, had he been minded to. As I have said before on this site, you can’t keep the proceeds of a bank error in your favour; and, if you do, you probably won’t be able to get out of jail free (see also here, here, here, here, and here). So, Thomas would have had to give back the winnings to golf’s authorities; and they in turn will no doubt pay them on to Tommy, if they have not already done so.
We are so used to wayward golf shots that there is a convention that the golfer hitting the wayward shot shouts “fore!” to alert those in its path. Wayward winnings are less common. So, purely as a hypothetical for the purposes of this post, let us assume that Thomas hadn’t repaid them. It is clear that the golf authorities could sue him to recover their mistaken payment (more…)