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II UNJUST ENRICHMENT

THE PRINCIPLE OF UNJUST ENRICHMENT

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAW OF UNJUST ENRICHMENT

The unjust enrichment principle was first recognized by the House of Lords in Lipkin Gorman (a firm) v Karpnale Ltd.1 Although this book is not the place for a detailed exposition of the history of the law of unjust enrichment,[1] [2] the essential features of that history remain of vital importance to a proper understanding of the modern law, particularly because this explains why the principle was only recognized relatively late in England and Wales.[3] [4]

  • [1] [1991] 2 AC 548.
  • [2] For detailed analysis of the history of what is now unjust enrichment see RM Jackson, The History ofQuasi-Contract in English Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936). See also JH Baker, ‘TheHistory of Quasi-Contract in English Law’ in W Cornish, R Nolan, J O’Sullivan, and G Virgo (eds), Restitution:Past, Present and Future (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 1998), ch 3 and D Ibbetson, A Historical Introduction to theLaw of Obligations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), Part IV.
  • [3] The unjust enrichment principle was recognized in other Common Law jurisdictions before it wasrecognized in England. See, for example, Peter Persaud v Pln Versailles (1971) 17 WIR 105 (Court of Appealof Guyana). For the recognition of unjust enrichment in Scotland see Shilliday v Smith 1998 SLT 976.
  • [4] (1760) 2 Burr 1005. 5 See p 59, below.
 
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