Talk:Unjust enrichment

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I am thinking of doing a thorough overhaul of this page and linking it more closely to the page on restitution. This would probably involve large-scale alterations to the introductory section on the unjust enrichment page. I would leave the section on the United States entirely intact as I am English and would not be qualified to amend it. The structure I propose to use is explained on the discussion part of the restitution page. Any objections?

As proposed, I have now amended this page. Comments and complaints are welcome. --Tinnymeup 23:43, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Overall I think this is a great article. My only complaint is about the unusual and inexplicable focus on the concept of Unjust Enrichment in North Dakota of all places. Why is this included? It just seems to have the potential of unnecessarily confusing all of us non-North Dakotans in both the Civil and Common Law world. Unjust Enrichment is a concept applied in the legal systems of a vast array of Western legal jurisdictions, and should be described as such. But like I said, other than that, the author of this article did a great job. Loomis51 20:28, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. I agree that the section on North Dakota is a bit out of place. It pre-dates my involvement with this page (it is the only bit i did not re-write) and I didn't know whether it was ok to just go ahead and delete it. Certainly I have no objections to getting rid of it if everyone thinks it should go. --Tinnymeup 21:14, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree - great page whoever did it [presumably someone else who studied at the feet of Peter Birks from its tenor... :-)], but I'd personally like to see a merger between "unjust enrichment" and "restitution". Personally, I'd redirect restitution here, with perhaps just a couple of explantatory comments about the concept of the remedy (restitution) and the wrong (unjust enrichment). Might also benefit from (i) a quick summary of the development of a separate concept of the law of restitution, and (ii) a brief synopsis of proprietary and personal remedies in this field [but don't take that as a criticism]. Legis 13:53, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

==> I disagree as to a merger between Unjust Enrichment and Restituion. The former is a causative event, the latter a response. Morever, unjust enrichment is not the only causative event that gives rise to restitution. It is therefore important to keep the two separated. Moreover, reference to unjust enrichment as a wrong is not correct: it sits alongside consents and wrongs as an independent source of obligation.

This is a very good article, as are several others on the subject of remedies that I assume are by the same author. Thanks. I visit Wikipedia everyday, but am disappointed with articles nearly as often. This is one of the best that I have ever seen. My only suggestion...please keep going. Among other things, there should be much better pages on the subject of remedies in general, and damages in particular. If you have time, of course ... :) 01:22, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Initially, I was alarmed when I saw the note proposing merging this article with restitution, which I consider a dependent but separate subject. As long as they link and remain compartmentalized, that works for me.
I interpreted the North Dakota references to be examples of evolution of common law (Massachusetts law is also mentioned) and not necessarily something that should be ripped out.
Of course US law largely refers to the UCC based upon English law before that, but this brings me to a new question: For our Australian, Canadian, British, Irish, and other English-speaking brethren (sisthren?), how do we provide easily-referenced articles useful to all national interests?
--UnicornTapestry 12:19, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

The opening paragraph contains a circular reference: "Unjust enrichment is a legal term denoting a particular type of causative event in which one party is unjustly enriched at the expense of another" defining an Unjust Enrichment as when someone is Unjustly Enriched is not very informative. --mrtimuk 09:34, 19 Feb 2009

Importance of the decision reached in Roxborough v Rothmans of Pall Mall Australia Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 516[edit]

In terms of Australian Common Law the judgement by Gummow J in Roxborough v Rothmans of Pall Mall Australia Ltd, questioned whether "unjust enrichment" will ever become a separate legal principle in itself. Therefore this must be considered in terms of whether to merge it with restitution or keep it as a entity on its own.

Also other cases in regard to unjust enrichment and restitution need to be taken into consideration on the standpoint of Australian Common Law: These include:

1. The judgement by Dawson J in David Securities Pty Ltd v Commonwealth Bank of Australia (1992) 175 CLR 353 406: "unjust enrichment does not itself constitute a cause of action"

2. Baltic Shipping Co v Dillon (1993) 176 CLR 344 at 375 where Deane and Dawson JJ stated where a action by the respondent in restitution was founded on the category of unjust enrichment.

--Beckhendrix996 (talk) 06:47, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

The only thing about this is, the Australian courts went a little odd. They'll realise their mistakes in a while, and change their minds. In the meantime, any High Court judges reading this are kindly referred to the leading English law case, Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale. Wikidea 11:41, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

I have updated the section on Australian law. Jason246xy 1

Australian Section?

I see someone has kindly developed a section called United States.

The discussion here touched on Australian authority but unfortunately did not develop into a section on Australian law. Is anyone interested in helping make an Australian section?

Australian Unjust Enrichment Caselaw

Pavey and Matthews Pty. Ltd v Paul (1986) 162 CLR 217

David Securities Pty Ltd v Commonwealth Bank of Australia (1992) 175 CLR 353 406

Baltic Shipping Co v Dillon (1993) 176 CLR 344 at 375

Roxborough v Rothmans of Pall Mall Australia Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 516

Farah Constructions Pty Ltd -v- Say-Dee Pty Ltd [2007] HCA 22 Nnoddy (talk) 00:26, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

Interesting additional question[edit]

If anyone knows the answer (I guess a peek in Birks' textbook is the most likely source) would be very interesting to know what the priority of claims are between a claim for unjust enrichment and a contractual or tortious claim. For example, let's say I accidentally overpaid a company (e.g. Lehman Brothers) which then immediately went insolvent. would my claim for restitution of my £10 rank ahead of contractual counterparty claims, or would I join the queue and be paid out at the same recovery rate of other creditors? The equity of the situation would suggest I should be paid first (since the counterparty never had any entitlement to the money in the first place and I shouldn't be penalised for assuming its credit risk). But I dare say there's no case law on it? ElectricRay (talk) 16:42, 11 November 2008 (UTC

Recent changes to this article (and in particular to the page on the English law of unjust enrichment) hopefully answer this. But basically, where A labours under a causative mistake of fact or law and pays money to B, A can bring a common law action for money had and received to the plaintiff's use (i.e., an action in "unjust enrichment"). This is a personal common law claim. To take your example and assume B is insolvent, A would merely have a personal claim and so stand in the queue along with all the other creditors. The further question is whether A should have a proprietary remedy. At common law, this is not possible: quasi-contractual actions such as an action for money had and received merely generated an obligation on the recipient to pay a liquidated sum (viz., a debt; the money equivalent of the mistaken payment). In Equity, it might be possible that B holds the funds on trust. A case directly on point is Chase Manhattan v Israel-British Bank [1981] Ch 105, where Goulding J held that (in this example) B immediately held the money on a constructive trust. This has been widely criticised (e.g., it undermines statutory insolvency regimes). In Westdeutsche [1996] Lord Browne-Wilkinson disapproved of the reasoning but suggested that it might have been correctly decided. Ultimately, it remains a controversial question whether a mistaken payment generates a constructive trust, but several subsequent cases have suggested it can. If it is possible, the better view is that this would only be once B has knowledge of the mistaken payment. Even then, it is not obvious why a mistaken payee should gain priority over a claim from, say, a victim of a tort or a contractual counter-party, especially when legal title to the funds have passed and the legislature has established a policy-driven insolvency regime to ensure pari passu distribution. --Jason246xy (talk) 11:58, 20 March 2016 (UTC)

Possible Error in Example[edit]

The section on the United States contains a confusing example. The example is as follows:

B contracts with T to provide a year's worth of labor at a specific price P. T is to pay B for his labor at the end of the year. After 9.5 months B decides to quit the job. B sues T and recovers the fair market value of the labor he performed for T during those 9.5 months. Note that in this instance, because B is in breach of his contract with T, B cannot recover more than the contract rate for his labor. The non-breaching party is protected from paying more than the contract rate for labor. The supporting reasoning is that it would be unfair to make the party who has lived up to his end of the agreement pay more than he agreed to in the first place. However, the breaching party is afforded no such protection.

The fourth sentence states that “B sues T and recovers the fair market value of the labor he performed for T during those 9.5 months” [emphasis mine]. This conflicts with the following sentence that that states “B cannot recover more than the contract rate for his labor” [emphasis mine].

For instance, suppose that the agreed labor rate was $30 per hour and that the fair market rate was $50 per hour. Because the fair market rate is higher than the agreed labor rate, B should not receive more than $30 per hour for his 9.5 months labor. Accordingly, the fourth sentence should probably be revised to state “B sues T and recovers the contract rate for the labor he performed for T during those 9.5 months” [emphasis again mine].

Is my thinking correct here or did I miss something?

BillinSanDiego (talk) 17:42, 21 August 2009 (UTC)



"Determination of liability"


A claim based on a wrong always results in an obligation to make compensation, but may additionally result in an obligation to make restitution.

and on the other hand it will result in an obligation to make reimbursement which will allow the normal citizen to the courts for its wrongdoing which it never intended to do so


THANKSNnoddy (talk) 23:37, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
Absent any comment I have now made this change to the article.Nnoddy (talk) 22:42, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Circular Reference[edit]


The opening paragraph contains a circular reference: "Unjust enrichment is a legal term denoting a particular type of causative event in which one party is unjustly enriched at the expense of another" defining an Unjust Enrichment as when someone is Unjustly Enriched is not very informative. --mrtimuk 09:34, 19 Feb 2009

Sugested definitions:

Unjust enrichment
1.n. a benefit by mistake or chance. Morally and ethically the one who gains a benefit that he or she has not paid or worked for should not keep it to the rightful owner's detriment. The party that received money, services or property that should have been delivered to or belonged to another must make restitution to the rightful owner. A court may order such restitution in a lawsuit brought by the party who should rightly have the money or property. [1].

2. n. A general equitable principle that a person should not profit at another's expense and therefore should make restitution for the reasonable value of any property, services, or other benefits that have been unfairly received and retained. [2]Nnoddy (talk) 23:15, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

I note that there have not been any posts to this article for over a year so I may have to edit unilaterallyNnoddy (talk) 00:41, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Minor edit (talk) 02:43, 17 October 2010 (UTC)Nnoddy (talk) 23:15, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

I simplified the lead. There was a lot of repetition Bhny (talk) 22:09, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

This article needs a direct link and discussion of[edit]

the famous book that is directly linked to this topic, UNJUST ENRICHMENT, by Linda Goetz Holmes, regarding WWII and the unjust enrichment of Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies by the use of the slave labor of Allied POWs. Starhistory22 (talk) 00:07, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

New version[edit]

I recently made large changes to the page and incorporated many of these points. In particular, I tried: (i) to distinguish clearly between jurisdictions; (ii) to explain the link between the law of restitution and the principle of unjust enrichment; and (iii) to explain the significance of personal/proprietary restitution. I removed incorrect information. Jason246xy March 2016

  1. ^ USLegal definitions: [1]
  2. ^ The Free Dictionary by Farlex: [2]