Author: Syedur Rahman 7 February 2022
Syed Rahman of Rahman Ravelli summarises a case that considered a party’s right to hold onto an interim payment
The High Court held in Wakefield v NJS  EWHC 3452 (QB) that any sum paid as an interim payment that subsequently exceeds the amount due under a final judgment should be repaid to the paying party.
The judge stated that the receiving party (the claimant in the case) had no right to the excess sum by virtue of the judgment or on any other grounds.
It was also made clear by the judge that the claimant also had no proprietary right or other interest in those funds. The funds, therefore, had to be given back to the defendant. But the judge did not go as far as to say that the claimant’s holding onto those funds would be characterised as unjust enrichment.
The judge heard arguments that there might be circumstances where it would be unjust or inequitable to require a repayment. An example would be where evidence exists that shows that the receiving party was misled as to whether the money would be recovered or used in a set-off of mutual debts.
Under CPR25.8, the court may make an order to adjust an interim payment where the defendant has been ordered to make an interim payment or has made an interim payment. The court may order that all or part of the interim payment is to be repaid.
The judge in this particular case eventually held that the excess sums should be repaid to the defendant. But one unique aspect of this case was that the question of repayment was not addressed when the final judgment was made.
Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, international arbitration, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.