Unjust Enrichment and Restitution: Challenges and Prospects for the Nigerian Legal System
1.0 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
”For this by nature is equitable, that no one be made richer through another’s loss” pomponius1
Unjust enrichment seeks reimbursement from another who had benefited from his actions, services or property without legal justification. A person who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another is required to make restitution to the other.2 In order to be granted restitution, the Plaintiff must show that the defendant received a benefit and that by the receipt of that benefit, he was unjustly enriched at his expense and that circumstances were
Unjust enrichment, also known as the law of gains – based recovery4 is a legal response which is calculated to take away an inappropriate gain or enrichment. It covers many diverse cases,such as the law relating to mistake, tracing of stolen property, unfair pressure, and recovery of the proceeds of wrong-doing. It also covers the important legal institutions of salvage, contribution, subrogation and constructive trust. As a legal response, restitution can be triggered by any one of a number of causative events, generally accepted to be that of unjust enrichment and wrongs.
LAW PROJECT : Unjust Enrichment and Restitution: Challenges and Prospects for the Nigerian Legal System
However, there are two distinct parts of the law of restitution – the cause of action in unjust enrichment and its sole resulting response of restitution, and, the response of disgorgement that is available for certain wrongs. This study is primarily concerned with the cause of action in has been described as “having some claim to be the fastest moving subject in common law Insurance, University of Lagos Press , 159 (2007).world.8 As a result, it is unsurprising to find that developments in this area of the law have been progressing on several fronts, so much that each appears to be different. However, the specifically restitutionary interest remains the same irrespective of the situation, which is whether the plaintiff can recover an enrichment received by the defendant at his expense. One major change in the law of restitution is the now accelerating acceptance of the language of restitution and unjust enrichment as preferable to the inscrutable vocabulary of the past.9 This change is foundational to the law of restitution because it affects the way in which problems in the area of the law are perceived and analysed, and can be largely attributed to the famous one of the most intellectually vital areas of private law, it has not yet gained any significance in Nigeria as an independent cause of action10 No wonder there is no single decided case on this