Sort code error leads to inheritance being sent to the wrong bank customer

  • Posted

The news has recently featured the story of a man who entered a lengthy legal battle when his inheritance money was sent to the wrong customer by a bank.

The trouble began when Peter Teich mistakenly provided his solicitor with the wrong sort code. As a result, his bank, Barclays, then transferred his £193,000 inheritance to another customer who then refused to return the money.

Mr Teich was forced to hire lawyers to recover the inheritance due from his late father, Mikuláš, who died aged 100 in August 2018.

‘Token gesture’

When Mr Teich originally challenged the mistake, the bank claimed the money could not be returned and he received £25 as a “small token gesture”. Mr Teich, 74, spent £12,000 in legal and court fees to obtain the name of the customer to whom the monies had been issued in June 2019.

He then spent a further £34,000 to get a court injunction forcing the other customer to pay back the money and Mr Teich eventually received the inheritance money a month later.

However, when he asked Barclays to cover his legal costs of £46,000, the bank refused. Mr Teich’s wife, Veronia Becko, claimed that the bank only agreed to do so after bowing to media pressure, and it offered a further £750 for Mr Teich’s inconvenience.

Last two digits wrong

The former building industry and charity sector worker had given his solicitor the correct name, address and account number for his bank account.  However, the last two digits of his sort code were wrong.

Mr Teich said he freely acknowledged his mistake, but that the error was insignificant when compared to the way that the bank responded.

In a statement to the Guardian newspaper, the bank said it was evident that on this occasion it had failed to meet the high standards which Mr Teich could expect to receive from Barclays and they offered him their sincere apologies.

Barclays confirmed Mr Teich would receive the legal fees he incurred in full, together with interest and a compensatory payment for the distress and inconvenience caused.

A cautionary tale

The case highlights the importance of scrutiny when dealing with the administration of an estate. At Buckles, we will only accept bank details in writing, and never by phone or email. In addition, a copy of the details provided by the client accompanies every payment request made to our Accounts team.