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Scottish Equitable Plc V. Derby Notes

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SCOTTISH EQUITABLE PLC V. DERBY FACTS In the spring of 1988 Mr Derby was made redundant. On his redundancy he received a total sum of PS125,000 of which PS90,000 seems to have been a transfer payment under his occupational pension scheme. The transfer payment went into a single-premium pension policy with Scottish Equitable. In these circumstances Mr Derby considered, and eventually decided on, exercising an option to take early retirement benefits under his policy with Scottish Equitable. What happened (and it helps to explain, although it does not excuse, the mistakes which were later made) was that in August 1989 Mr Derby asked for figures to be quoted for the option, decided to take it, and then changed his mind; and then in February 1990 he again asked for a quotation, decided to take it, and this time did not change his mind. Mr Derby was approaching his 65th birthday (1 May 1995) and he telephoned Scottish Equitable (at its customer services division in Edinburgh) to inquire what would happen to his pension when he became entitled to the state pension. On 25 May 1995 Scottish Equitable sent Mr Derby a print-out statement showing that his policy had a value of PS201,938. Mr Derby's evidence was that he was very pleasantly surprised by this (since the fund value appeared to have increased by a factor of four within five years) but that he was naive in pension matters. In quoting a fund value of PS201,938 Scottish Equitable had made a serious error. It had not taken account of the early retirement benefits which Mr Derby had taken (after a false start) in 1990. When Scottish Equitable discovered the mistake in October 1996 it asked Mr Derby to repay the overpayment, but he declined to repay it. HOLDING ROBERT GOFF LJ Affirming the wide view - reliance is not necessary The narrow view treats the defence as 'the same as estoppel minus the representation' (so that detrimental reliance is still a necessary ingredient). The wide view looks to a change of position, causally linked to the mistaken receipt, which makes it inequitable for the recipient to be required to make restitution. In many cases either test produces the same result, but the wide view extends protection to (for instance) an innocent recipient of a

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