High-flyer must repay £250,000 City bonus

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A high-flying City banker has been ordered to repay a £250,000 bonus after the Court of Appeal ruled it had been given him by mistake.

Commerzbank took Gareth Price-Jones to the Court of Appeal after the High Court ruled last December that he had been due bonuses totalling £515,000.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that Mr Price-Jones had been "unjustly enriched" and ordered him to repay the bonus, plus £10,000 interest.

Mr Price-Jones, of Hamp-stead, north London, joined the German bank as an investment banker in April 2000, and was made redundant in November 2001. During his time there he was promised a total remuneration package of £1m, reflecting the bank's view of him as "exceptional".

Part of the package was a guaranteed bonus of £250,000 a year. In June 2000 Mr Price-Jones received a letter from the bank confirming his bonus as £265,000, which he understood to mean in addition to the guaranteed £250,000.

In the High Court, deputy judge David Phillips QCsaid Mr Price-Jones was entitled to believe the £265,000 was intended to persuade him not to leave.

It was agreed in the High Court that the bank had made a mistake and only intended to pay him an extra £15,000 bonus. But the deputy judge ruled that contracts signed by Mr Price-Jones over the bonuses meant he was entitled to both sums.

Ruling yesterday, Lord Justice Mummery said that had the bank intended to pay £515,000, this would have been made plain in letters to Mr Price-Jones.

Mr Price-Jones said that, even if there had been a mistake, he should not have to repay because he had stayed, thinking he was a most valued employee.

Lord Justice Mummery said: "The fact that, but for his expectation of a very large additional bonus, he would have decided to [leave] is not sufficiently significant, precise or substantial in extent to be treated as a change of his position which would make full restitution inequitable."