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TPO response to the CMG ‘competent court’ judgment in overpayment recovery cases


The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) is disappointed with the recent Court of Appeal ruling that it was not a ‘competent court’ for the purposes of concluding overpayment disputes where recoupment is sought. 

TPO was granted powers to handle overpayment disputes and determine the terms of overpayment recovery by Parliament, with final binding Determinations being subject only to an appeal on a point of law. 

In response to the ruling, DWP is supporting legislative changes to formally empower TPO to bring an outstanding overpayment dispute to an end without the need for a County Court order. 

It is very rare for any of TPO’s Determinations to require enforcement in the County Court, and so the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the County Court is needed as a final step in overpayment cases, before recoupment can begin, does present an additional hurdle for trustees, members and TPO. TPO has been working with stakeholders from across the sector to review the management of overpayment disputes, in order to minimise the additional time and cost burden that has been added to the process. 

We have created a factsheet to provide guidance on how overpayment disputes should be managed, and in practice it is hoped that this additional step should not prove unduly burdensome, as the role of the County Court here is only to enforce the Ombudsman’s Determination, and not reconsider the merits of the complaint. 

We have issued our first overpayment Determination since the judgment was handed down.

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