Research Handbook on Unjust Enrichment and Restitution
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Research Handbook on Unjust Enrichment and Restitution

Edited by Elise Bant, Kit Barker and Simone Degeling

This comprehensive yet accessible Research Handbook offers an expert guide to the key concepts, principles and debates in the modern law of unjust enrichment and restitution.
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Chapter 11: A law and economics perspective on restitution

Chris Wonnell


This chapter provides an instrumentalist, economic perspective on restitutionary rules. It shows that although economics is a forward-looking science concerned with the creation of incentives, those who use it are not necessarily committed to a utilitarian framework in which individual entitlements can be overridden just because this produces the greatest overall social good. Some economists take a more liberal normative position than this and see the science as a mechanism which, by promoting rational individual choices, can also bring social benefits insofar as it can maximise the means at people’s disposal for pursuing their own ends. The chapter illustrates how five different types of restitution case – cases of mistake, restitution for wrongs, the provision of benefits under failed contracts, gains made through breach of a contract and restitution of unsolicited benefits – can usefully be critiqued from this economic point of view. _

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