This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Law Notes Aspects Of Obligations Notes

Defences To Unjust Enrichment Notes

Updated Defences To Unjust Enrichment Notes

Aspects Of Obligations Notes

Aspects Of Obligations

Approximately 333 pages

Aspects Of Obligations notes fully updated for recent exams in the UK. These notes cover all the major LLB aspects cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These notes were formed directly from a reading of the cases and main texts and are vigorous, concise and very well written. Everything is conveniently split up by topic as you can see by th...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Aspects Of Obligations Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Unjust Enrichment (III): defences

  1. Defences

    1. Estoppel

      1. General

        1. Operation

  • Estoppel will arise where D detrimentally changes his position in reliance of a representation made by C that a benefit was validly received. This is a complete bar because its effect is to stop C arguing that the elements of unjust enrichment have been established

    • United Overseas Bank v Jiwani (1976) (HC)McKenna J – three conditions must be satisfied: [1] D led to believe that he or she is entitled to a benefit, [2] D relies on this, [3] D’s circumstances have changed so that restitution would be inequitable

    1. Justice of the Case

      • United Overseas Bank v Jiwani (1976) (HC)McKenna J – estoppel will still fail if it is not just to require D to make restitution to C, e.g. if D was under a duty to inform of the mistake

    1. Defendant Led to Believe He Is Entitled to a Benefit

      1. General

  • Must have been an unequivocal representation or a duty of accuracy to D which C breached

    • RE Jones v Waring and Gillow (1926) (HL)Lord Sumner –these are cumulative conditions and both must be satisfied in every case

  • The better view is that they are alternative:

    • United Overseas Bank v Jiwani (1976) (HL) McKenna J –assumed that these are alternative conditions

    1. Representation of Fact

      • RE Jones v Waring and Gillow (1926) (HL) representation must be collateral to the transfer and cannot be implied from the mere fact of voluntary transfer. It must be made by C rather than a third party

  • Representations of fact may be express or implied

    • Deutsche Bank v Beriro (1895) ( ) – C mistakenly told D that a bill of exchange had been collected, and C paid money to D. C sought to recover this when he realised it was a mistake but was estopped because of the express representation he had made

    • Holt v Markham (1923) (CA) –C paid D money and then asked for it back, saying that D was not entitled to it because he was retired. D informed C that he was not in fact retired but didn’t hear back for another two months. C eventually asked for the money back, saying that it was mistaken on another ground. Scrutton LJ – found an implied misrepresentation in the fact that a payor should inform payee of any mistakes within a reasonable time of payment. This seems artificial because it is a misrepresentation from the mere fact of transfer.

      Bankes and Warrington LJJ –founded misrepresentation by the fact that C had failed to respond to the letter

    1. Duty of Accuracy

  • Even if there was no representation, estoppel may be made out if C owed a duty of accuracy to D which was breached. The inference is that if such a duty is owed, C makes a representation by the virtue of the transfer

    • * National Westminster Bank v Barclays Bank (1975) (HC) bank does not owe a duty of accuracy when it honours a cheque

    • Greenwood v Martins Bank (1933) (HL) – but where aware of facts relating to validity of the transfer of the payment, C may be under a duty to disclose these facts to D

    1. Reliance By Defendant

      1. General

  • D must have relined on C’s representation. So D cannot rely on estoppel if he knew he was not entitled to a certain benefit but did not inform C of this

    1. Change of Circumstances

      1. Causation

  • D must establish that but for the receipt of the benefit from C, his circumstances would not have changed in the way they did (e.g. if you were going to spend the money on something anyway estoppel is not available)

    • * Avon County Council v Howlett (1983) (CA) overpaid teacher checked with local authority to see if he was being overpaid. He spent the additional amount and authority was estopped. In addition, teacher had adjusted their expenditure accordingly. Estoppel was still available notwithstanding that some of this had been spent on day-to-day things

    1. Detriment

  • If D spends the money on something that increases in value, the detriment requirement will not have been satisfied

    • Holt v Markham (1895) (CA) e.g. making a bad investment. * Avon County Council v Howlett (1983) (CA) – e.g. failing to claim social security benefits

    1. Consequences of a Successful Estoppel Defence

      1. General

  • The consequence is that D may not have spent all the money he received, but restitution is entirely barred (e.g. even where he has only spent a small portion of the money received). This is because estoppel is an evidentiary defence that stops C adducing facts which contradict the representation on which D has detrimentally relied

    • * Avon County Council v Howlett (1983) (CA) claim entirely barred even though only 546 out of 1007 had been spent

    1. De Minimis

  • One way of reducing the harsh effects is to impose a de minmis principle

    1. Apportionment of Payments

      • Burrows – a single representation of fact could be divided into different representations which operate only to the extent that D’s position has been changed

  • This is unworkable when only one payment has been made to D, but seems okay when a number of payments have been made

    1. Imposition of Conditions

      • Jones v Waring and Gillow (1926) (H)Viscount Cave and Lord Atkinson – you could make application of the defence conditional on D accepting that he would return part of the benefit in respect of which his circumstances have not been changed

  • Quaere whether court has the jurisdiction to get such an undertaking from D

    1. Shifting the Burden of Proof

      • * Avon County Council v Howlett (1983) (CA)Cumming-Bruce LJ –burden of proof could be shifted so that once D has shown he has suffered detriment, C must prove that D’s circumstances have changed only in respect of part of the benefit he received

  • Seems unworkable because C is unlikely to know of D’s financial circumstances

    1. Unconscionability

      • * Avon County Council v Howlett (1983) (CA)Eveleigh LJ – might be unconscionable for D to retain part of the benefit in respect of which his position has not changed. Cumming-Bruce LJ – also recognised might lie on the ground that it would be inequitable for D to retain benefit, but...

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Aspects Of Obligations Notes.