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Unit Overview


The law of unjust enrichment has until recently been the forgotten area of private law. It is now firmly entrenched as the third fundamental area of the law of obligations, along with contract and tort. This unit addresses the distinguishing features of this category of claim and its place in the broader private law comprising common law, equity and statute. It examines core areas of the law of unjust enrichment including mistaken payments, duress, failure of consideration and available defences such as change of position. It also critically analyses claims the nature of which have been highly contested, such as undue influence, unconscionable dealing, ‘no intention to benefit' and claims involving public authorities. In so doing, the unit will consider challenging and related concepts such as waiver of tort, tracing and the laws of estoppel. The unit also examines the law of restitution, the gains-based remedy for actions in unjust enrichment and an under-appreciated additional remedy available to other causes of action such as wrongs.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) ) critically assess how restitutionary rights arise in unjust enrichment and how restitutionary rights are affected by defences;

; (2) ) integrate into their analysis of unjust enrichment principles their knowledge of contract, property, torts, trusts and other common law, equitable and statutory concepts and principles, to identify inconsistencies and gaps in the developing law of unjust enrichment; (3) critically assess the legal frameworks applicable to unjust enrichment and restitution law across Australian and overseas jurisdictions, as relevant;

; (4) identify opportunities for judicial and legislative reform of aspects of the Australian approaches in light of those comparisons;

; (5) engage in self-directed legal research to create an autonomous piece of original legal writing on a relevant topic for the unit and

; and (6) communicate clearly in written form an integrated understanding of the complex legal principles, theories and frameworks concerning unjust enrichment law and its relationship to the private law as a whole..


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) case analysis and (2) mid semester exam. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Elise Bant
Unit rules
Enrolment in
20820 Juris Doctor
and LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering
, LAWS4102 Criminal Law
, LAWS4103 Contract
, LAWS4104 Property
, LAWS4106 Torts
, LAWS4107 Land Law
, LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law and ( LAWS4109 Legal Theory and Ethics
or LAWS4110 Interpretation
LAWS3392 Unjust Enrichment and Restitution
Approved quota: 60—nA
Contact hours
Students must attend every day of the intensive period.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.