UNJUSTIFIED ENRICHMENT LIABILITY AND ESTOPPEL DEFINITION When one person’s estate is increased unjustifiably at the expense of another. • Enrichment = source of obligation • Relationship between debtors and creditors LAW OF PERSONS LAW OF OBLIGATIONS LAW OF PROPERTY LAW OF DELICT LAW OF CONTRACT UNJUSTIFIED ENRICHMENT COMPONENTS/ GENERAL PRINCIPLES / REQUIREMENTS • Enrichment • Impoverishment • Sine causa requirement (without legal cause) • Causality (at the expense of) VARIOUS ENRICHMENT CLAIMS AVAILABLE Condictiones sine causa Improvements to Property Management of another’s affairs Work done or service rendered • Condictio indebiti • Condictio ab turpem vel iniustam causam • Condictio causa data causa non secuta • Condictio sine cause specialis • Bona fide possessor • Bona fide occupier • Mala fide possessor • Mala fide occupier • actio negotiorum gestorum utilis • actio negotiorum gestorum contraria • locatio conductio operis • locatio conductio operarum EXAMPLES • electronic funds transfer into incorrect bank account • payment of cheque which has been stopped GENERAL ENRICHMENT ACTION See; Nortje v Pool No general enrichment action – mere ad hoc extensions of existing actions. Did not exclude possibility of general enrichment action, but emphasized that it would have to be gradually developed by the courts.
EXTENT OF LIABILITY Entitled (in principle) to the amount by which he has been impoverished or by which defendant has been enriched – whichever is the lesser Quantum determined at time of institution of action. Defendant therefore not liable for benefits he could have derived but did not obtain. Where enrichment diminishes, so does liability reduced. EXCEPTIONS Liability usually fixed – calculated with reference to the date on which enrichment action was lodged. May be fixed at an earlier date under certain circumstances: • From the moment the defendant becomes aware he has been unjustifiably enriched. Liability only reduced if defendant can prove that loss/destruction would have taken place in any event or that it wasn’t his fault. Where negligent, he remains liable at time of actual knowledge. • If defendant should have realised that benefit may later prove to constitute unjustified enrichment. Liability reduced or extinguished if he can prove enrichment was not his fault. Liable at time when a reasonable person would have realised he might be enriched. • When defendant falls into mora debitoris . Liability reduced or extinguished only if defendant proves enrichment would have operated against plaintiff if performance had been made timeously. Where there is a doubt about the existence of a claim or a dispute – mora does not arise.
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- Fall '17
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