Course Code : LAW 409

Course Title : Unjust Enrichment

Weekly Teaching Hour: 3 hours seminar per week, 4 (1-hour) tutorials per week

Who may enrol : Compulsory course for year 4 (Senior) LLB students

Prerequisites : Previously studied and passed a Laws course

Lecturer : To be announced on August 2020

Description : This course will develop students’ analytical, critical, and expressive faculties, help them to dissect legal problems, and argue legal points clearly and convincingly.

By comparison with civilian legal systems, English law has been slow to recognise unjust enrichment as a source of rights and duties within the law of obligations. That step was not taken by the House of Lords until 1991. Since then a flood of claims has surged through the courts. In the 1990s the most important of these were prompted by the discovery that thousands of interest rate swap contracts entered by banks and local authorities were void; in the 2000s more claims were brought in the wake of ECJ declarations that parts of the UK tax regime were contrary to EU law. The resolution of these cases has required the courts to decide many fundamental questions relating to the law of unjust enrichment, but others still remain to be decided. The cumulative value of the sums at stake has run into billions of pounds, and it is now beyond question that a sound knowledge and understanding of the law in this area is essential for lawyers specialising in commercial litigation.

A claimant in unjust enrichment must show that the defendant was enriched, that his enrichment was gained at the claimant’s expense, and that his enrichment was unjust. When all three requirements are satisfied, the further question arises, whether there are any defences to the claim; if there are not, then the court must decide what remedy should be awarded. The court must also consider whether the defendant’s enrichment is justified by an overriding source of rights such as statute or contract, as in this case recovery will be denied although the claimant would otherwise be entitled to restitution. The course is arranged in line with this analytical structure. The seminar topics are set out below:

Unjust Enrichment and Restitution

Enrichment I

Enrichment II

At the Claimant’s Expense

Mistake I

Mistake II

Undue Influence

Failure of Consideration I

Failure of Consideration II

Problem Class

Lack of Consent and Want of Authority I

Lack of Consent and Want of Authority II

Ultra Vires Payments and Receipts by Public Bodies

Secondary Liability

Problem Class

Justifying Grounds

Change of Position

Remedies I

Remedies II


Students who enjoyed contract, tort, and/or trusts, and who wish to take an advanced obligations course, may enjoy this course. So will those with an interest in commercial law. Each week students are expected to read textbook chapters, cases, and articles by way of preparation for discussion in seminars.

Recommended Textbook (s) and Supplementary Books :

  1. Goff & Jones: The Law of Unjust Enrichment 9th ed, by Charles MitchellPaul MitchellStephen Watterson, publisher Sweet & Maxwell Ltd, ISBN13: 9780414055230
  2. Enrichment in the Law of Unjust Enrichment and Restitution, By: Andrew Lodder, Hart Publishing ,ISBN 9781847319715
  3. Unjust Enrichment, By: James Edelman, Elise Bant, Hart Publishing, ISBN: 9781841133188
  4. Reading lists and other materials will be provided for students registered on the course via online by lecturer.

Course Assessment:

  • Class Participation 10%,

  • Mid-term Examination 30%,

  • Assignments 10%, 2 x formative essays

  • Final Examination 50%, 100% Open book take-home unseen

examination (8 hours)

Attendance 95 % compulsory.