RESTITUTIONARY CLAIMS BROUGHT BY THE VICTIM

(A) THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE

It is a fundamental principle of the law of restitution that no criminal can retain a benefit which accrues to him or her as a result of the commission of a crime.[1] Similarly, anybody who obtains the proceeds of crime from the criminal will be liable to make restitution, as was recognized by Lord Commissioner Wilmot in Bridgeman v Green:[2] ‘Let the hand receiving it be ever so chaste, yet if it comes through a corrupt polluted channel, the obligation of restitution will follow it . . . ’

But, despite the clear recognition of this fundamental principle, it does not follow automatically that the victim of the crime is necessarily entitled to recover the benefit which the defendant had obtained, since the victim must base his or her restitutionary claim on one of the principles which underlie the law of restitution.

  • [1] St John Shipping Corp v Joseph Rank Ltd [1957] 1 QB 267, 292 (Devlin J). See also Attorney-General vGuardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) [1990] 1 AC 109, 286 (Lord Goff).
  • [2] Bridgeman v Green (1757) Wilm 58, 65; 97 ER 22, 25.
 
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