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NSW Received Money in Bank Account by Mistake - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by michael martin, 16 December 2014.

  1. michael martin

    16 December 2014
    Likes Received:
    I have traded in a car at a used car dealership. The agreed trade in price for my car was $26, 000 and I purchased a car worth $13, 000. So the residual the dealership paid out to me was $13, 000.

    The dealership direct debited the money into my bank account two days in a row so I ended up receiving $26, 000 in total. I was contacted by the dealership a few weeks later saying that I have to repay the money or I would face legal action because I have received money I was not entitled to.

    My question: are they entitled to sue me under Australian Consumer Law to get the money back, or is it just a mistake they have to deal with? Am I liable to pay the money back if I know I have received it in by mistake, even if the mistake was theirs?
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
    LawTap Verified Lawyer

    28 April 2014
    Likes Received:
    I assume they credited, rather than debited, your account.

    Going by what you have said above, you got the money
    you contracted for as part of the sale.
    Then you got extra, for what amounts to no reason.
    In short and simple language - Yes, you have to give the second $13000 back.
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    DennisD and Sophea like this.
  3. Sophea

    Sophea Guest

    Hi Michael,

    further to Tim's comments above, there is case law supporting the car dealer's assertion that they can sue you for the return of the money. In the case of ANZ Group Ltd v Westpac Banking Corporation, the Judges stated:

    "receipt of a payment which has been made under a fundamental mistake is one of the categories of case in which the facts give rise to a prima
    facie obligation to make restitution, in the sense of compensation for the benefit of unjust enrichment, to the person who has sustained the countervailing detriment.

    The car dealership simply needs to prove that it was a mistake and the court will force you to pay it back, so just do it and safe yourself the legal costs.
    Sarah J, DennisD and Tim W like this.
  4. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

    11 July 2014
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    You've got to give the 13K back

    1. because of basic decency, it's not yours, you agreed 13k not 26k

    2. the courts will make you, see the excerpt provided by Sophea. Simply it's an unjust windfall for you. Also Chase Manhattan is one of the touchstone cases
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  5. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    16 July 2014
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    Yes, I agree with the above comments. The extra $13,000 was credited to your account by mistake and you are obliged to return it.
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