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Avon V. Howlett Notes

BCL Law Notes > Restitution of Unjust Enrichment BCL Notes

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AVON V. HOWLETT FACTS Before April 1, 1974, the defendant had been employed by the Bristol City Council as a teacher in charge of sports and physical education at the New Fosseway School, Bristol. The defendant, however, was not then able to undertake any duties for the plaintiffs, because he had unfortunately been injured in an accident in one of the classrooms, which had occurred on January 8, 1974. In the event, he returned to work only for about six weeks between April 5 and May 18, 1976. Ill-health then once again prevented him from working until he reached the retirement age of 65 on October 6, 1976. It is common ground that, following his accident on January 8, 1974, and consequent absence from work, the defendant, under his conditions of service, was entitled to be paid at full rates of pay for the first six months, at half rates for the next six months and to no pay thereafter, so long as he was not working. In fact the plaintiffs continued to pay him at full rates for several months beyond the expiration of the first six months' period, that is to say until September 1974. They then continued to pay him at half rates long beyond the expiration of the second six months' period, that is to say until August 1975.... Some time after August 1975 the plaintiffs discovered that, up to and including January 1975, the defendant had been regularly overpaid and that after January 1975 he had been paid for seven months when he should not have been paid anything at all The defendant relying, as he was entitled and instructed by the plaintiffs and their said predecessors to do, upon the said representations (a) made no claim to and was not paid additional social security benefits by way of increase of industrial disablement benefit (b) incurred expenditure which he would not have incurred had his income been as the plaintiffs now assert it should have been namely: (i) purchase of clothes to the amount of PS53.50 from Montague Burton Ltd. on June 21, 1975, (instalment payment for which was completed in February 1976); (ii) hire purchase through United Dominion Trust of a motor car from Wrington Service Station, Bishopsworth Road, Bristol, in August 1975. HOLDING SLADE LJ Ingredients for estoppel are satisfied: Goff and Jones, The Law of Restitution, 2nd ed. (1978), pp. 554-555

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