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Restitution - JURD7379
 Law Books

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: LAWS1001 and LAWS1011 and Corequisite: LAWS2311; Prerequisite: JURD7101 and JURD7111 and Corequisite: JURD7211
Excluded: LAWS3079
Fee Band: 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


Unjust enrichment, along with such subjects as contract and tort, is one of the law's primary sources of rights and obligations. This course examines unjust enrichment, and the law's response to unjust enrichment, called restitution. Liability in unjust enrichment is encapsulated in the phrase "unjust enrichment at the expense of the plaintiff". We commence with enrichment. Not all benefits received by the defendant are enriching and the courts have developed tests to determine whether the defendant is enriched and whether this enrichment is at the plaintiff's expense. The next question is injustice, this question being answered by the unjust factors. We will cover various unjust factors, including mistake, failure of basis and policy motivated unjust factors. Finally, we will look at two defences: change of position and estoppel.

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

Having completed this course, students should be:
  • Familiar with the Birksian taxonomy of private law events and responses
  • Able to analyse critically the elements of a claim in unjust enrichment and the place of that claim in the private law of Australia
  • Able to evaluate the policy debates and approaches to law reform, both judge made and legislative, concerning the legal issues covered in this course such as the place of unjust enrichment on the private law map, the relationship between law and equity, the relationship between gain based and loss based claims and the elements of a claim in unjust enrichment
  • Able to analyse critically the claims of parties to various remedies
  • Able to apply their knowledge of the areas of law covered in the course to solve relevant legal problems
  • Able to form and express a reasoned view on both legal problems and also policy debates

Main Topics

  • Introduction to unjust enrichment and restitution
  • Unjust factors I: Mistake and ignorance
  • Unjust factors II: Failure of basis
  • Unjust factors III: Absence of basis
  • Unjust factors IV: Policy motivated claims
  • Defences to claims in unjust enrichment


Class participation 20%  (maximisable)
Mid-Semester Exam 30%
Final Exam 50% or 70% (depending on class participation)
5,000 word Research Essay 50% or 70% (depending on class participation)

Course Texts

Erbacher, S, Australian Restitution Law: text cases and materials, 2nd edition, Cavendish

Edelman, J, Bant, E, Unjust Enrichment in Australia, 2006, Oxford University Press

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.