Three Faces of Restitution

13 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019 Last revised: 30 Mar 2020

See all articles by Norman Otto Stockmeyer

Norman Otto Stockmeyer

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Date Written: February 22, 2019


During the first half of the 20th century, three mainstays of the required first-year law school curriculum were Contracts, Torts, and Restitution. Today Restitution has disappeared as a separate course and is offered, if at all, only as part of an optional Remedies course. This disappearance is particularly ironic to Michiganders, as the two leading mid-20th-century Restitution scholars were from our state.

The purpose of this paper is to re-introduce Restitution by illustrating three of its principal advantages: as an alternative to Tort remedies, as an alternative to Contract remedies, and as a remedy in cases where neither body of law provides relief. It has been said, “The lawyer who doesn’t know remedies is like a physician without a cure.” To provide complete relief, lawyers need to know the benefits of Restitution. Welcome to a look into three faces of Restitution.

Note: This paper received the 2020 Cohn Prize in Law and Public Policy, awarded by the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters.

Keywords: restitution, unjust enrichment, remedies, assumpsit, quasi-contract, implied contract, quantum meruit, law school curriculum

Suggested Citation

Stockmeyer, Norman Otto, Three Faces of Restitution (February 22, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Norman Otto Stockmeyer (Contact Author)

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School ( email )

1352 Hickory Island Drive
Haslett, MI 48840
United States
517-339-2246 (Phone)


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics