Court reverses mistake

2010-03-04 00:00

THE legal wrangling that ensued after a Kuruman businesswoman accidentally transferred R341 652 into an incorrect account via her Internet banking service in December 2008 ended yesterday when her closed corporation was awarded a judgment entitling it to recover the outstanding sum from Durbanbased Ads 4 Africa, into whose bank account the money was paid.

According to court papers, Madelien Stapelberg, the sole member of a closed corporation, CB Trek-Inn CC based in Kuruman, was paying various creditors by Internet banking from her Standard Bank account.

She had received an invoice from Engen Petroleum for R341 652 and attempted to transfer this amount to the company’s account, but in error transferred it into the First National Bank account of Ads 4 Africa (the trading name of Shellfish Trading 003 CC), which was already recor­ded as a beneficiary in her Internet banking records.

It was submitted that the payment was not legally due to Ads 4 Africa, and that there were no legal grounds on which Ads 4 Africa was entitled to keep the money.

The company opposed various attempts by Stapelberg to recover the money.

Stapelberg said that after making the transfer, she immediately contacted her bank in Kuruman to report the error. She also immediately completed the required documentation for a reversal of the payment and was told that this would be completed within 48 hours.

After 48 hours, the bank manager, Johan Theron, informed her that no reversal could be made as an undisclosed amount had been “appropriated” by the recipient. Steps were then taken to place a hold on the amount that remained in the Ads 4 Africa account.

She was told on January 16, 2009, that there was only R42 000 remaining in the account in question.

Stapelberg’s attorney, Jon White, confirmed that this amount was subsequently recovered.

Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Herbert Msimang yesterday granted judgment in favour of Stapelberg’s CC for payment of the outstanding R299 077, 87, as well as interest on the original R341 652 (at 15,5% per annum) from January 16 to April 7 last year, and interest on R299 077,87 from April 7 last year up to the date of payment.

The court also awarded costs in her favour.

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