Three Faces of Restitution
13 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019 Last revised: 30 Mar 2020
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
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