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The complainant’s interest in recouping a profit from the defendant that she did not voluntarily leave with is weighed against the defendant’s interest in determining how assets in his control are distributed. The component of enrichment is the key to trying to resolve this conflict because it prevents the respondent from being regarded lawfully influenced except if he decided to take on financial liability for the advantage he did receive from the complainant or, in the case at hand, was left with no other option. The article suggests that because the factor of enrichment properly protects the accused’s liberty, the courts do not need to further safeguard that interest while determining the justifications for restitution at the third phase of the unfair enrichment approach. The first is that the accused’s choice of freedom is always reflected in the legal term of enrichment. When determining the exact contours of restitution relief, the law must carefully weigh conflicting interests. It must respect the plaintiff’s demand to be compensated for a service she granted to the respondent. It must still respect the accused’s wish to have the final say over how the money he owns. There are various ways to achieve a balance between the interests of both parties. Those strategies relate to the three components of the unfair enrichment cause of action, which restitution always addresses:[1]

  1. An enrichment to the defendant,
  2. A corresponding deficiency to the plaintiff, and
  3. An absence of any juristic goal for the enrichment[2]


Surprisingly intricate is the idea of enrichment. Two of the many reasons why this is so must be highlighted right away. First, as previously stated, freedom of choice is the actual objective rather than enrichment per se. The concept of enrichment serves a dichotomous purpose, which is an additional source of the difficulty. It most plainly fulfills the very first component of unjust enrichment (i.e., an enrichment to the defendant), but presuming the other elements of the case are also satisfied, it also determines the quantum of remedy together with the idea of a comparable privation. This is valid if the plaintiff is asking either for private or commercial remedy about a possession that he does not transfer to the respondent. [3] In any case, it’s critical to prove both the existence and extent of the defendant’s enlightenment and the complainant’s ongoing impairment. The objective value of the advantage at the moment it was granted serves as the starting point for this computation. [4]      


Unless such defendant receives anything of market price, he cannot often be deemed to be benefited. “The word ‘enrichment’… denotes a palpable benefit,” as McLachlin J. put it. [5]” “As a consequence, the accused does not justify maltreatment, unlike with an individual who has violated a contractual agreement or perpetrated a tort.” Unjust enrichment should, at worst, be a zero-sum event. The defendant should never be required to give back more than he got. [6]


Even while an objective advantage can assume many different forms, there may be unique issues when the complaint offers the respondent services. Many analysts have asserted that restitution assistance could be granted based only on activities, i.e., those that neither yield a commercial residue nor confer worth onto the receiver, due to the requirement for a repairable value. [7] According to this perspective, enrichment can be recognized if the respondent received a new asset as a result of the plaintiff’s services (for example, if the complainant constructed a boat for the defendant) or if the market price of an existing property was increased (for example, if the plaintiff decided to paint the defendant’s boat). [8] “The exemplary cases of Deglman v. Guaranty Trust[9] and Petkus[10] are illuminating wherein, by an oral agreement, the respondent sought payment from the estate of his deceased aunt in exchange for performing whatever services she may have requested of him during her lifetime. The aunt agreed to leave him enough money in her will, including a specific piece of property. The reply fulfilled all of his obligations under the contract. The aunt, who also owned other property, passed away intestate. Each time, the complainant carried out a variety of domestic tasks, some of which left no trace that might be sold.”[11] Despite this, the respondent was responsible for all of the work. The preservation of trade value is not how courts define an objective advantage, notwithstanding their contention. Therefore, if the defendant is not able to satisfy the judgment based on a monetary gain that he might realize from the plaintiff’s efforts or effect restitution in specie, relief may be granted. It might be sufficient that he entered the field of pure services, comparable to a boost in human resources (such as when a capable student receives instruction), or even an impermanent benefit.


To restate, receiving an enrichment by the respondent constitutes the first component of the reason for action for unjust enrichment. More specifically, it calls for proof that the respondent either voluntarily assumed the financial risk in exchange for a benefit or could not do so. “This article’s beginning included an example. The passing on defense shows that, despite appearances, the petitioner did not experience a similar loss. Many other defenses are best thought of as enrichment-denying since they follow the very same trend. [12]” Insofar as the defendant made an extraordinary expense in the sincere conviction, he was allowed to keep a benefit, the defense of changing of attitude excludes culpability. Let’s say the accuser is a shareholder in a business. The complaint is not entitled to recover the full $10,000 in reparations, despite the obligation that initially emerged. The defendant was not changed to that extent, which is the best explanation,[13] Although it may seem paradoxical, this conclusion is a result of how the law views enrichment. In other words, it demonstrates how the law respects the defendant’s right to make his or her own decisions.

Regarding the computer that the defendant purchased before being aware of the complainant’s claim, the analysis is more difficult. He’ll say he didn’t assume financial responsibility for the purchase, just like with the trip to Fiji. His mistaken conviction that he was entitled to the tip tainted his seeming aim. The two expenses can be distinguished, though. There was no saleable leftover from the holiday. It can no longer be made into a plutocrat. In contrast, the computer still serves as a valuable commodity.


“The key idea is straightforward: culpability is only feasible if the defendant is still wealthy at the time of trial. Relief is only feasible if the defendant’s assets remain at least “abstractly bloated, “even though he need not keep the original enrichment or its traceable proceeds in cash.” There is little risk that the obligation of accountability will cruelly restrict the defendant’s freedom of choice given the impact of the element of enrichment and its related defenses. That does not imply that relief must always come thereafter. The plaintiff still needs to demonstrate a comparable injustice and a un justifying circumstance (i.e., a reason for reparation). It does, however, suggest that a court need not be concerned with preserving the defendant’s autonomy while deciding whether or not to reverse a financial transfer. Unfortunately, people routinely ignore the fact. When the analysis reaches the third step, the new proof is presented indicating the defendant freely accepted responsibility for his affluence.


Unfair enrichment is the result of demand. Free choice is a profoundly held legal ideal, although it frequently seems to push in the opposite direction. The respondent argues a right to keep the money in his hands, whereas the plaintiff asserts a right to reclaim a benefit with which she unavoidably parted. This strain can be effectively handled in the initial analysis stage. The accused’s autonomy is fundamentally covered by the factor of enrichment. If he received an actual advantage, he cannot be held accountable unless he voluntarily assumed the risk of financial obligation or was forced to under the circumstances. This claim is essential in and of itself. Additionally, it shows that, in most cases, the accused’s freedom of choice need not be taken into account when determining the necessity for restitution at the third analysis stage.

Author(s) Name: Aadrika Malhotra (GURU Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)


[1] Bank of America Canada v. Mutual Trust, (2002) SCC 43.

[2] Pettkus v. Becker, (1980) 2 SCR 834.

[3] Peter v. Beblow, (1993)1 SCR 980.

[4] Id.

[5] Peel (Regional Municipality of) v. Canada, (1992)3 SCR 762.

[6]  Mitchell Mclnnes, “The Measure of Restitution”, 52 U. Toronto L.J.163, 186 (2003).


[8] Id.

[9] Deglman v. Guaranty Trust, (1954) S.C.R. 725, 3 D.L.R. 785.

[10] PETTKUS, supra note 2.

[11] Id.

[12] BIRKS & CHARLES MICTHELL, UNJUST ENRICHMENT, 2 (Oxford University Press 2000).

[13] Storthoaks (Rural Municipality of) v. Mobil Oil Canada Ltd., (1976) 2 S.C.R. 147.