The law of restitution is the third branch – in addition to contract and tort – of the common law of obligations. An understanding of restitutionary doctrine is vitally important for potential litigators and commercial lawyers. Restitutionary issues can, however, arise in virtually every legal area. This course covers a number of topics – such as fiduciary obligation and constructive trust – that feature prominently in contemporary litigation both in commercial matters and in other aspects of private law, including family law.
The course organizes these materials in terms of a unifying theory of unjust enrichment and examines the relationship of restitution with the more familiar doctrines of tort, contract and property law. In so doing, the course fills in a number of gaps left by the first year contracts course and offers the student an overview of the entire field of civil liability.
Placing particular emphasis on Canadian materials which adopt the unjust enrichment theory, the course examines the more common instances of restitutionary recovery, benefits conferred under mistake, fraud or compulsion, in circumstances of necessity, or under transactions that are ineffective for such reasons as informality, incapacity, illegality, mistake, undue influence, unconscionability, frustration or breach. As well, consideration is given to the recovery of benefits acquired through wrongdoing whether criminal, tortious or in breach of a fiduciary duty.