No claim in unjust enrichment will lie where the claimant was under a legal obligation to confer that enrichment. Some have sought to extend this idea: no claim will lie wherever there is a legal basis or ground for the transfer, or further still: there will be a claim in unjust enrichment wherever there is no legal basis for the defendant’s enrichment. These extensions should be resisted. The idea that there can be no unjust enrichment claim in respect of obligatory transfers receives its principal application in contractual cases. But the rule this is taken to support—that unjust enrichment claims may lie once the contract has been terminated—is at odds with standard accounts of the effect of termination on the parties’ obligations. The better view may be to deny that these restitutionary claims are claims in unjust enrichment at all.
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