How to persuade the DWP to withdraw a case
A DWP Investigation can lead to a summons to appear in Court. This makes some clients believe that the case will only be over once a full hearing has taken place. This does not have to be the case.
We often make representations to the DWP that either;
- The case should be withdrawn
- That an administrative penalty is a more appropriate way forward
In the following case our client was employed in a responsible position and would have lost her job had the case gone to Court and ended up in a conviction.
The papers were transferred from another firm of solicitors who were preparing the case for trial. It soon became clear to us that we should try to stop the case getting to Court at all.
Our client became unemployed in 2011. She lived as long as she could on her savings before having to claim benefits. She was entitled because of her National Insurance Contributions. In due course these benefits transferred to means tested benefits after the maximum 6 months.
Our client found new employment and notified the DWP and her benefits stopped. However the DWP discovered a number of accounts in our client’s name which had sufficient money in them to mean she was not entitled to any benefit. They started a DWP Investigation.
Our client was abroad and did not receive a summons notifying her of a Court hearing. Indeed the summons was sent to an incorrect address. Nevertheless a warrant was issued for her arrest.
She was eventually arrested and consulted us after initially seeing the duty solicitor.
We advised her that the best way forward was to ask the DWP to apply The Social Security (Penalty as alternative to Prosecution) Order 2015 and to accept payment of an administrative penalty instead of prosecution. We sent a letter setting out our arguments as follows:
- Her defence was that the accounts were held in trust for her mother. The money was not hers to use.
- Because of the incorrectly addressed summons our client had been unlawfully detained.
- She had spent 24 hours in custody
- She had already repaid the alleged over-payment
- Her benefits claim had been ended because she had obtained work and not because of the investigation
- Our client now lived abroad
- A criminal conviction would affect her employment
- She was prepared to pay an administrative penalty to avoid the case continuing
- By discontinuing the case a further 30% of the alleged overpayment would be paid to the DWP which would not happen if the case went to trial (all monies having already been repaid).
In due course agreement was reached and the case was withdrawn.