Voluntary Payment Doctrine in Georgia

Anyone involved in a dispute in Georgia which involves the demand for or payment of money needs to be familiar with the “Voluntary Payment Doctrine” codified at O.C.G.A §13-1-13. This relatively unknown doctrine can act as a complete bar to recovery to a party seeking to recover a payment that they have made to another. Under Georgia law, with limited exception, a person who “voluntarily” makes a payment, even if done under protest, will be barred from recovering the money so paid.  This is true regardless of whether the party making the payment was aware of the law or their legal obligation to make the demanded payment or not. The exceptions provided for at law, which may allow recovery of such a payment, include: (1) where the payment has been made in the absence of all the facts; (2) where there has been some misplaced confidence in the party being paid; (3) the party being paid has used artifice, deception or fraud to secure the payment; or (4) the payment was made with an urgent and immediate need to release a person or property from detention or prevent seizure of a person or property. There may also be additional factors to consider which may allow voluntary payments to be recovered, such as competing remedies at law or in equity.


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