Refunds now available for deputy supervision overcharging

People in England and Wales who were charged excessive deputy supervision fees by the England and Wales Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) can now begin claiming refunds under a scheme just launched by the Ministry of Justice.

The OPG overcharged thousands of people between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2015 for its supervisory service. The number of deputyships during that period was rising quickly, but the OPG failed to revise its estimates of the cost of supervision, and continued to charge fees that were much higher than the costs it actually incurred.

The fees were reviewed in April 2015, and clients have not been overcharged since then, says the Ministry of Justice. The current assessment fee is £100, plus a £320 annual supervision fee.

More than 80,000 people are now owed refunds, most of which will be less than £200, with interest added at 0.5 per cent, says the Ministry of Justice. According to the Money Saving Expert website, however, the average refund will be £240, with the total owed being about £20 million.

Deputies who are still acting under a current court order will get an automatic refund without needing to apply.

The deadline for refund claims is 4 October 2022.

This is not the first time the Ministry of Justice has had to offer refunds for overcharging. In July 2017, it announced it would have to repay £89 million overcharged to applicants for Lasting Powers of Attorney, after discovering that the OPG had been charging excessive fees for issuing them since 2013. That mistake also came about because the number of applications had increased sharply, and the efficiency savings made by the OPG through the increased volumes had not been passed on to the clients.

Lindsey Sharples is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.

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