• South African law adopted the RD enrichment law, including the general enrichment action: • SA courts have recognized liability in circumstances where none of the classical actions were applicable. (classical enrichment actions extended to include a general enrichment action). • SA academics conclude that a “subsidiary enrichment action” had developed in SA law, known as the general enrichment action due to the McCarthy case, which overturned the previous position held by Nortjie v Pool.
Origins & historical development of enrichment law • Thus if the circumstances of a action fall outside the scope of the classical RDL actions (condictios/negotiorums/fides) then the general enrichment action may be used provided the four requirements for enrichment liability is present. • McCarthy Retail 2001 (SCA): Discuss – courts must pay more attention to requirements of enrichment liability. However, the general enrichment action is supplementary to the existing classical actions but applies when the others cannot. [Facts: Garage repairs truck mistaken belief truck was insured – GE requirements satisfied]. [Par 8,9,10] • Nortje v Pool 1966 (A): Held that SA Law does not recognize a separate general enrichment action, did not fit into any of the classical actions, cannot have enrichment liability for intangibles.
General requirements for unjustified enrichment
1. The defendant is enriched ENRICHMENT INDICATORS: Increase of defendants assets No decrease of assets where a decrease should have happened Favourable decrease in liabilities and No increase in liabilities which should have happened. Enrichment must still be in existence in the patrimony/estate of the enriched at the time when the claim is lodged. For example: The amount of money paid OR the substitute value of the enrichment is still present in the estate of the enriched party. [If no benefit can be shown, then there is no enrichment and no claim]
2. The plaintiff is impoverished IMPOVERISHMENT INDICATORS: Decrease in assets and/or No increase in assets An unfavourable increase in liabilities and No decrease of liabilities Favourable and detrimental side effects [For example: possession of property but with attachments.]
3. Enrichment was at the expense of the plaintiff • See definition of “CAUSALITY” / At the expense of in your study guide. 1. Couws v Jester Pools: Facts: A (contractor) entered into contract with B (supposed owner) for swimming pool on what A believed to be B’s property. C was the actual owner, not B. A performed and sought counter- performance/payment from B. However, B left the country without payment, A sought payment from C the real owner. The magistrates court found that C had been unjustly enriched and received benefit at expense of A, upheld CI. On Appeal, it transpired that C’s was the registered owner of the property but his only interest was to sell it and mortgage bond was paid.
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- Fall '18
- Law, SA Law