Restitution: Mistakes of Law and Ultra Vires Public Authority Receipts and Payments

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

This project is complete.

In March 1990 the Lord Chancellor made a reference to the Commission: to examine the law relating to payments made but not lawfully due and in particular the common law rule that payments made under a mistake of law are irrecoverable, and to make recommendations.

In 1991 we published a consultation paper, in which we dealt with payments made under a mistake of law and, in the case of payments to and by public authorities, all ultra vires payments. As a result of consultation we were granted an extension to our terms of reference to include services rendered and nonpecuniary benefits conferred under a mistake of law.

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Commercial and common law