Module code: LAW3132

Module Overview

Commercial restitution is an intellectually stimulating subject which lies at the intersection of the foundational subjects of private law. It is a recent and swiftly developing area of law, with significant practical relevance. Knowledge of the rules that form the basis of this subject is highly recommended for those who want to pursue careers in commercial law.

Unjust enrichment as a cause of action has been recognised by the House of Lords in 1991. However, commercial restitution has been an important concept in English commercial law for much longer. In this course, we explore the legal developments and debates in this lively and commercially very important area of law.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

STARZA-ALLEN Antony (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Seminar Hours: 20

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Introduction to unjust enrichment and restitution
What is enrichment?
At the claimant's expense?
A list of unjust factors
The absence of basis theory
Restitutionary remedies

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3,000 word written coursework 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The module will be assessed by a 3,000 word written coursework. There will be an opportunity to submit a formative assessment and obtain feedback. Students are required to demonstrate transferable skills of independent research, and critical analysis, including making connections between doctrinal and theoretical issues, and the ability to present a supported, developed argument. Students are also required to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the doctrine that will enable them to identify the unjust enrichment cause of action in professional practice and its application to a range of scenarios. 

Module aims

  • To introduce the concept of unjust enrichment and the variety of restitutionary responses
  • To develop an understanding of the concept of unjust enrichment in English law
  • To understand and critically assess when enrichment will be reversible when it is at the claimant's expense
  • To understand and critically assess the variety of unjust factors that may make the receipt of enrichment unjustified
  • To understand and critically assess the rival theory of absence of basis
  • To understand and critically assess the law of tracing
  • To understand and critically assess the variety of restitutionary responses
  • To understand and critically assess the variety of defences to a claim for restitution

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically evaluate the central principles, concepts and history of the area of restitution and unjust enrichment KCPT
002 Critically evaluate the content of the rules studied on this module KCP
003 Critically evaluate the concept of enrichment in English law KCP
004 Critically evaluate the idea of when that enrichment is at the claimant's expense KCP
005 Critically evaluate the proper justification for restitutionary reliability (unjust factors or absence of basis) KCP
006 Critically evaluate the remedies available to effectuate restitution of unjust enrichment KCP
007 Critically evaluate the circumstances in which the defendant may have a valid defence to a restitutionary claim KCP
008 Critically engage with scholarly debates on the law of restitution and unjust enrichment KCPT
009 Critically engage with the major controversies surrounding the legal areas studied in this module KCPT
010 Critically engage with and apply knowledge of the primary and secondary legal authorities to solve complex problems and complex essay questions which seek to resolve tensions between the competing arguments surrounding the law of restitution KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

This course will be delivered through 10 weekly two-hour seminars and 4 one-hour tutorials. Preparatory reading will be required, and seminar participation and debate encouraged within an informal academic setting.

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to enable students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the doctrine of unjust enrichment and a critical appreciation of its application, scope and conceptual underpinning. Topics will be introduced using straight-forward explanations of the key rules and relevant controversies. Supplemented with directed reading from the textbook and wider academic material, the lecture content will form the basis of discussion and debate in the seminars. In the seminars, students will be encouraged to contribute their viewpoints on a range of debates and will be challenged to substantiate their position, while also invited to analyse issues from a range of alternative perspectives. Students will also have the opportunity to clarify any points of law covered in the introductory content. The tutorials will provide students with guidance and the opportunity to develop critical arguments by working in small groups and with the tutorial leader. Supported with formative feedback, students will develop their own thesis in response to key issues and will be guided on how to formulate an original and insightful response to essay questions. This approach promotes resourcefulness and resilience, while preparing students for professional practice.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW3132

Other information

This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: The knowledge and skills students will gain on this module are highly relevant to employment in legal practice, particularly in commercial law, and other areas of commercial practice, where lawyers/advisors are expected to identify relevant causes of action and advise not only on the likely application of this area of emerging common law doctrine but also to consider its application to potentially novel situations. Through critical engagement with the doctrine, students will also develop their ability to identify themes, assumptions, and varying interpretations within the law.

Digital capabilities: Students on this module must engage in independent learning and research using online platforms and databases to locate primary sources and relevant academic literature. Students will navigate vast and complex bodies of literature, developing efficient and directed strategies for legal research.

Sustainability: Students are encouraged to reflect critically on the development of the law of unjust enrichment, its future application and scope with reference to its adequacy to deliver appropriate remedies and achieve justice between the parties to a claim.

Resourcefulness and resilience: The level of critical engagement needed to understand this complex body of law requires students to demonstrate resourcefulness and resilience in navigating an expansive body of academic literature and students are supported to develop their own unique position in response to key debates and controversies, using creativity and originality in their argument.

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.