Unjust enrichment

Howard Robert Roitman

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Probate Attorney - Las Vegas, NV

Contributor Level 17

Posted over 2 years ago. Applies to Las Vegas, NV, 3 helpful votes



The unjust retention of money or property

Unjust enrichment is "'the unjust retention ... of money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice or equity and good conscience. unjust enrichment occurs "whenever a person has and retains a benefit which in equity and good conscience belongs to another." There is no Unjust Enrichment if you have a valid contract claim. Unjust enrichment is not available when there is an express, written contract, because no agreement can be implied when there is an express agreement. The law pretends there should have been a contract when unjust enrichment applies. The phrase 'unjust enrichment' is used in law to characterize the result or effect of a failure to make restitution of, or for, property or benefits received under such circumstances. It is "quasi contract".


Claims in unjust enrichment do not depend upon proof of any wrong

Claims in unjust enrichment do not depend upon proof of any wrong. However, it is possible that on a single set of facts a claim based on unjust enrichment and a claim based on a wrong may both be available. A claim based on unjust enrichment always results in an obligation to make restitution. A claim based on a wrong always results in an obligation to make compensation but may additionally result in an obligation to make restitution. 1.Was the defendant enriched? 2.Was the enrichment at the expense of the claimant? 3.Was the enrichment unjust? 4.Does the defendant have a defense? 5.What remedies are available to the claimant? In some cases one may also demand money damages equal to the amount stolen instead of an equitable remedy unjust enrichment Mistake of fact Mistake of law Duress Undue influence



A benefit conferred by mistake or chance should not stand. 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 Damages that restore the situation before the injustice and return the situation to a just one. Simply, getting back the value of whatever was conferred wrongly with interest.


Constructive trust

A constructive trust is imposed by a court to benefit a party that has been wrongfully deprived of its rights due to either a person obtaining or holding legal right to property which they should not possess due to unjust enrichment or interference. "Interference with the plaintiff's property" can justify why the plaintiff can get its property back from a thief, but it cannot explain why new rights are generated in property for which the plaintiff's original property is swapped. The situation would be different if the defendant had mixed his own property with that of the plaintiff, for example, adding $50,000 of his own money to the $100,000 stolen from the plaintiff and buying a $150,000 house; or using plaintiff's $100,000 to add a room to defendant's existing house. The constructive trust would still be available, but in the proportions of the contributions, not wholly in the claimant's favor.



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Additional Resources

It is beyond doubt that unjust enrichment and wrongs can trigger an obligation to make restitution. It is arguable that other types of causative event can also trigger an obligation to make restitution like interference with property rights. it may be that the vindication of property rights with which have been interfered with is an available damge.


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Howard Roitman

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