What is ‘Unjust Enrichment’ for? (Review: Charlie Webb, ‘Reason and Restitution’ (2016))

Posted: 7 Jul 2016

Date Written: July 6, 2016


By many accounts, unjust enrichment is well-developed as an aspect of private law, distinct from property, contract and tort. But the reasons justifying it are not. The modern scholarship gives elaborate accounts describing the law, but has nothing substantial to offer as to why the law is there or whether it serves a purpose – or, indeed, whether it should be there at all. Webb now seeks to fill this gap. His conclusion is a striking one: that while it is right that we have such a law, the reasons for it have nothing to do with unjust enrichment, and rather a lot to do with property, contract and wrongs. The idea that there is a distinct set of reasons, additional to those motivating the rest of private law, turns out to be an illusion.

Keywords: restitution, unjust enrichment, property

JEL Classification: K11, K12, K19

Suggested Citation

Hedley, Steve, What is ‘Unjust Enrichment’ for? (Review: Charlie Webb, ‘Reason and Restitution’ (2016)) (July 6, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2805475 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2805475

Steve Hedley (Contact Author)

University College Cork ( email )


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