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ENRICHMENT

THE RELEVANCE OF ENRICHMENT

The identification of an enrichment goes to the heart of a restitutionary claim which is founded on reversal of the defendant’s unjust enrichment, for until an enrichment has been identified and valued it is not possible to ascertain exactly what should be restored to the claimant. Usually, the need to identify an enrichment causes no difficulty for the claimant. So, in a typical claim where the defendant has received money from the claimant, the defendant is always regarded as enriched by that money, since it is the measure of value.[1] But where the claimant seeks to recover the value of non-money benefits, such as goods or services, the identification of an enrichment and its valuation is a matter of some complexity. It must not be forgotten that, even though it can be shown that the defendant has been enriched, it does not follow that the restitutionary claim will necessarily succeed, since it must also be established that the enrichment was received at the claimant’s expense[2] and that one of the recognized grounds of restitution is applicable.

When considering the definition of enrichment for purposes of the law of unjust enrichment it is vital to distinguish clearly between the process of identifying the enrichment and, once this has been done, the valuation of that enrichment. Although, as will be seen, identification and valuation of enrichments share common principles, the interpretation and application of those principles sometimes differ.

  • [1] See p 73, below. 2 See Chapter 5.
  • [2] 3 [1943] AC 32, 61. See also Brook’s Wharf and Bull Wharf Ltd v Goodman Brothers [1937] 1 KB 534, 545
 
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