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Unjust Enrichment$
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Peter Birks

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276981

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276981.001.0001

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Absence of Basis

Absence of Basis

(p.129) 6 Absence of Basis
Unjust Enrichment

Peter Birks

Oxford University Press

Every enrichment comes about either with or without the participation of the claimant. Non-participatory transfers are those over which the claimant has no control, as where a pickpocket takes money from his pocket. Such an enrichment at the claimant's expense almost invariably has no explanatory basis. Participatory enrichments are perceived as either obligatory or voluntary. If the purpose is discharge of an obligation and there is indeed a valid obligation which is discharged, the enrichment has an explanatory basis and cannot be viewed as unjust enrichment. If there turns out to be no valid obligation discharged, the enrichment is inexplicable. It has no explanatory basis. Voluntary enrichments are those which are transferred not with obligation but in order to achieve some outcome. If that purpose is achieved, the basis has not failed. If it is not achieved, the enrichment has no explanatory basis. There are three categories of voluntary enrichments: contracts, trusts, and gifts. Non-participatory enrichments can be at law, in equity, or by-benefits.

Keywords:   participatory enrichments, voluntary enrichments, contracts, trusts, gifts, obligation, non-participatory enrichments, by-benefits, unjust enrichment, at law

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