Bank processed payments in accordance with account mandate

Account mandates,
Franklin underwent surgery for a serious medical condition that left him mentally incapacitated for six months. Shortly after this, his partner Marja told him she wanted a separation and he moved back home to Australia.
May 2020

Later, when reviewing statements for their account, Franklin discovered Marja had made $20,000 of transactions that he had not been aware of. Some of the transactions were made while he was incapacitated and some after they had separated. Franklin believed these withdrawals meant Marja obtained about $20,000 more from the relationship than he did.

As Marja was an employee of the bank, Franklin said the bank was therefore on notice of their separation and that it should have stopped her from making the withdrawals. He asked the bank to compensate him. When the bank declined, he asked us to investigate.

Our investigation

We found the account mandate allowed either of them to operate the account individually – that is, without requiring the other’s consent. The withdrawals Franklin was concerned about were made in accordance with the account-operating authority, and the bank was therefore allowed to process the transactions on Marja’s instructions alone.

We could find no evidence to suggest the bank should have been aware he and Marja had separated. The fact she was an employee of the bank was immaterial. If a customer wants a bank to be aware of a separation or any other matter affecting the operation of an account, he or she must notify the bank directly. Franklin acknowledged that he didn’t think to notify the bank of the separation because it hadn’t occurred to him that he could not trust his wife.

Even if he had notified the bank at the time of the separation and requested a stop or restriction on the account, it was likely he would have ended up in the same position because most of the transactions in question were made before their separation. We discussed our findings with Franklin.


Franklin withdrew his complaint.

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