If the defendant has completed the work which had been started by the claimant, this adoption of the benefit should defeat the defendant’s reliance on subjective devaluation. For the defendant’s voluntary acceptance of the benefit shows that he or she values what the claimant provided, so it is inconsistent for the defendant then to say that he or she did not value what the claimant had done.[1] [2] [3]


If the defendant has prevented the claimant from completing the performance, this should be sufficient to prevent the defendant from subjectively devaluing the benefit.[4] But it would be difficult to show that the defendant had freely accepted the benefit, since it does not necessarily follow from the fact that the defendant has prevented the claimant from continuing to perform that the defendant values what the claimant has already done. It might be concluded that the defendant should be considered to be enriched because he or she had requested the claimant to do the work in the first place,[5] but the defendant’s request only shows that he or she valued the whole and not necessarily the part performance. Despite this, it should still be possible to establish that the defendant was enriched in these circumstances by virtue of the estoppel principle.[6] This principle will be applicable because the defendant had represented that he or she would pay for the benefit, the claimant detrimentally relied on this representation , and the defendant’s representation was falsified because it was the defendant who prevented the claimant from performing the contract.

  • [1] Stoljar, ‘Unjust Enrichment and Unjust Sacrifice’, 613.
  • [2] See Chapter 7. See also Chapter 13 for examination of the ground of restitution where a contract hasbeen discharged after the claimant has partly performed it.
  • [3] See Lodder v Slowey [1904] AC 442.
  • [4] Birks, ‘In Defence of Free Acceptance’, 140.
  • [5] Burrows, ‘Free Acceptance and the Law of Restitution’, 586. 3 See p 90, above.
  • [6] 207 See Chapter 13. 208 Sumpter v Hedges [1898] 1 QB 673 . 209 Seep 141, below.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >