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Unit of study_

LAWS5221: Law of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment

2024 unit information

Students who enjoyed studying other private law subjects will enjoy this unit. The central question considered is when the law allows one party to recover (the value of) benefits obtained by another. Despite the relative simplicity of this core concern, students will see that it raises a myriad of difficult, interesting and often unresolved questions. Perhaps the most fundamental of these questions is whether there is a unified law of restitution (or 'unjust enrichment') at all, or whether the subject merely brings together number of distinct, and only superficially related, claims. The unity of the law of 'restitution' for 'unjust enrichment' is now generally accepted in England, albeit that this is a relatively recent phenomenon. By contrast, the High Court of Australia has been more cautious in unifying the historically disparate restitutionary claims, upon which the modern law is based. While the focus will be on understanding precisely when the recovery of (the value of) benefits is possible under Australian law, a key underlying question explored is whether the Australian or English approach to the subject is preferable. Each week students are expected to read textbook chapters, cases, and articles by way of preparation for discussion in seminars.

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:


Code LAWS5221
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
LAWS5001 and LAWS5002 and LAWS5006 and LAWS5008
Assumed knowledge:

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Actively engage with the relevant primary and secondary materials and through this acquire a sophisticated understanding of the law of restitution in Australia as well as the ways in which the Australian approach differs from that taken in other commonwealth jurisdictions, particularly England.
  • LO2. Demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving.
  • LO3. Apply your written and oral communication and argumentation skills.
  • LO4. Develop your capacity to construct legal arguments based on the studied materials so as to be able to influence the conduct of negotiations, as well as dispute resolution proceedings in commercial law.
  • LO5. Develop your capacity to apply your knowledge of the material covered in the resolution of practical problems spanning across the various different facets of private and commercial law.
  • LO6. Fill in various gaps in your understanding of private law and come to better understand the way that its various different aspects fit together.

Unit availability

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Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Semester 1 2024
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Semester 2 2021
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Semester 2 2022
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Semester 2 2022
Normal day Remote

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.