UCL Faculty of Laws


The global futures of unjust enrichment

21 April 2017–22 April 2017, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

Unjust Enrichment

Event Information

Open to



Professor Charles Mitchell (UCL), Professor Paul Mitchell (UCL) and Dr Stephen Watterson (Cambridge)


Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, UCL Roberts Building, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JE

The bentham house conference 2017

This two-day conference celebrates the publication of the 50th anniversary edition of Goff & Jones: The Law of Unjust Enrichment, and honours the memory of the book’s first authors, Lord Goff of Chieveley and Professor Gareth Jones, who both died in 2016. The conference brings together leading scholars from around the world to consider the future of unjust enrichment in overseas jurisdictions, and to discuss current problems and controversies in English law.

The conference has been convened by Professor Charles Mitchell (UCL), Professor Paul Mitchell (UCL) and Dr Stephen Watterson (Cambridge).

CPD accreditation is available for both days.

About the conference

The emergence of the law of unjust enrichment as a distinct part of the law of obligations was the most important and radical development in English private law of the last hundred years. Academic writing played a significant role in this development, and most significant of all was Robert Goff and Gareth Jones’s seminal work on the topic in 1966.

Robert Goff (1926-2016) was an outstanding judge. Following a period as a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, he went to the Bar in 1956 and took silk in 1967. He became a High Court judge in 1975, a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1982, and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1986; from 1996 until his retirement in 1998 he was the Senior Law Lord. Many of his judgments are regarded as classics, including several in which he set out fundamental principles of the law of unjust enrichment.


Gareth Jones (1930-2016) was a great legal scholar, whose work was recognised by the award of many honours, including the titles of QC, LLD, FBA, and Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn. He enjoyed a long association with Trinity College, Cambridge, which he first joined as a Fellow in 1961, and from 1975 until his retirement in 1998 he held the Downing Chair of the Laws of England at Cambridge University. 


Gareth Jones

When Goff and Jones published the first edition of their book in 1966, unjust enrichment was barely known in England. Now it is understood to be one of the main sources of rights and obligations in English private law, a development to which their work made a central contribution. In the words Alan Rodger, another great judge and scholar, ‘Goff and Jones are the Romulus and Remus of the English Law of Restitution. Out of a few weak and scattered settlements they founded a powerful city whose hegemony now extends far and wide.’

The ninth edition of Goff and Jones’ book appeared in 2016, fifty years after its first publication. The conference takes this anniversary as its starting point, and looks ahead. On the first day, the speakers will consider the future of the law in overseas jurisdictions; on the second day, the speakers will discuss unresolved problems and controversies in English law.

The first day will be of particular interest to scholars of comparative and private law; the second will address issues that also bear directly on the work of English commercial practitioners.

Conference programme

Friday 21 April 2017

Overseas Jurisdictions
Speakers will discuss the future trajectory of the law in overseas jurisdictions, and will consider such themes as:

09:00   Registration

09:20   Welcome and Introduction

09:30   Session 1: Mixed Jurisdictions
Chair: Professor Jacques du Plessis (Stellenbosch University)

11:20   Break

11:40   Session 2: Civil Jurisdictions I
Chair: Professor Lionel Smith (McGill University)

13:00   Lunch

14:00   Session 3: Civil Jurisdictions II
Chair: Professor Sonja Meier (Freiburg University)

15:20   Break

15:40   Session 4: Common Law Jurisdictions
Chair: Lord Collins (Essex Court Chambers and UCL)

17:30   Reception

19:00   Dinner

Saturday 22 April 2017

English Law
Speakers will consider a series of important issues which have been thrown up by the English case law over the past decade, and which will require significant further attention from the courts.

09:00   Registration

09:15   Tributes to Robert Goff and Gareth Jones
by Prof. Alison Jones (KCL)

09:30   Session 5: Enrichment and At the Claimant’s Expense
Chair: Professor Ben McFarlane (UCL)

11:20   Break

11:40   Session 6: Unjust Factors I
Chair: Professor Francis Rose (Harris Manchester College, Oxford)

13:00   Lunch

14:00   Session 7: Unjust Factors II
Chair: Sir Guy Newey (Royal Courts of Justice)

15:20   Break

15:40   Session 8: Unjust Enrichment and Other Sources of Rights and Obligations
Chair: Professor John Mee (University College Cork)

17:00   Conference Ends

  1. in civil law jurisdictions – whether it will be recognised that a common set of normative principles underpins the various codified provisions which provide claimants with restitutionary remedies; whether a subsidiarity principle will be kept in place to preclude claims on the ground of unjustified enrichment where a claim in delict or contract is available; and whether a better understanding will be formed of the interplay between principles of property law and principles of unjust enrichment (and of obligations law more generally);
  2. in mixed civil and common law jurisdictions – whether it is conceptually possible to operate a ‘combined’ law of unjust and unjustified enrichment which explains and justifies restitutionary recovery both on the ground that there was no legal basis for the transfer of a benefit from claimant to defendant and on the ground that there is a positive reason why the defendant should return the benefit; and if not, whether the ‘unjust’ or ‘unjustified’ enrichment analysis of restitutionary recovery will prevail; and
  3. in common law systems – whether the jurisdiction will develop in line with evolving English law principles or will diverge from English law and develop a set of home-grown principles that place the law of unjust enrichment on a different footing.
  • Robert Chambers (KCL), ‘Canada’
  • Hector MacQueen (Edinburgh), ‘Scotland’
  • Helen Scott (Cape Town), ‘South Africa’
  • Pedro del Olmo Garcia (Carlos III University, Madrid), ‘Spain’
  • Eric Descheemaeker (Edinburgh), ‘France’
  • Gerhard Dannemann (Humboldt), ‘Germany I’
  •  Birke Häcker (Oxford), ‘Fog on the Channel? Six Comparative Lessons in Unjust(ified) Enrichment’
  • Yeo Tiong Min (Singapore Management University), ‘Asia Pacific’
  • Elise Bant (Melbourne), ‘Australia’
  • Niamh Connolly (UCL), ‘Ireland’
  • Tatiana Cutts (LSE), ‘Is Money Enriching?’
  • Andrew Burrows (Oxford), ‘At the Claimant’s Expense’
  • Sir Philip Sales (Court of Appeal), ‘The Future of Tracing’
  • Paul Mitchell (UCL), ‘Shifting Paradigms in Duress’
  • Sirko Harder (Sussex), ‘The “Same Damage” Requirement in the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978’
  • Charles Mitchell (UCL), ‘Unjust Factors in Three-Party Cases’
  • Stephen Watterson (Cambridge): ‘Agents and Organisations: Attribution Rules and Unjust Enrichment Claims’
  • Rebecca Williams (Oxford), ‘The ECJ’s ‘Remedies Jurisprudence’ and the Role of Domestic Courts: How to Transfer Principle alongside Competence’
  • Amy Goymour (Cambridge), ‘Unjust Enrichment and Land’

 17:00   Conference Ends

About the speakers

Elise Bant is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne. Her main teaching and research interests lie in the fields of unjust enrichment and restitution law, equity and trusts, remedies and more recently contracts and consumer law. Her published work includes The Change of Position Defence(2009) and (with Justice James Edelman) Unjust Enrichment (2016).

Andrew Burrows is Professor of the Law of England at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College Oxford. He was previously the Norton Rose Professor of Commercial Law at Oxford University of Oxford and a Professorial Fellow of St Hugh’s College (from 1999 to 2010) and a Law Commissioner for England and Wales and Professor of English Law at UCL (from 1994 to 1999). His research interests include the law of unjust enrichment and restitution, the law of contract, and the law of remedies.

Robert Chambers is a Professor of Private Law at King’s College London. He practised as a barrister and solicitor in Alberta before obtaining a DPhil under the supervision of Professor Peter Birks at Oxford. He was a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne and a professor at the University of Alberta and UCL. He writes about property, restitution, trusts, and unjust enrichment and is the author of Resulting Trusts (1997) and An Introduction to Property Law in Australia (3rd edn, 2013).

Niamh Connolly is a lecturer at University College London, having studied and previously lectured at Trinity College Dublin. Her main research interest is in unjust enrichment law. She is currently working on a project exploring reasons for restitution when people perform invalid legal obligations.

Tatiana Cutts is an Assistant Professor of Law at LSE and co-convenor of the SLS Restitution section. She graduated from Oxford with a D Phil degree in 2015, and her research focus spans restitution, equity and property law, primarily within the context of modern monetary practices. She is currently involved in various policy-facing projects on the integration and regulation of distributed ledger technologies.

Gerhard Dannemann is Professor of English Law and Director of the Centre for British Studies, at the Humboldt University Berlin, and Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of European and Comparative Law, University of Oxford. His research interests include unjust enrichment, contract and tort, European private law, comparative law and the conflict of laws. He is the author of The German Law of Unjustified Enrichment and Restitution: A Comparative Introduction (2009) and co-editor (with Stefan Vogenauer) of The Common European Sales Law in Context: Interactions with English and German Law (2013).

Eric Descheemaeker is Reader in European Private Law at the University of Edinburgh. He is a private lawyer whose primary interest lies in tort law, especially the protection of personality rights. He is also interested in Roman law and mixed (Anglo-Roman) legal systems. He is the author of The Division of Wrongs (2009) and the editor of Iniuria and the Common Law (2013, jointly with Helen Scott) and The Consequences of Possession (2014)

Amy Goymour is a University Lecturer in Land Law at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Downing College Cambridge. Her research interests lie in those areas where property law intersects with other areas of private and/or public law (e.g. the interrelation between property law and human rights; between the land registration regime and general property law; and the intersection between land law and obligations, in particular the law of unjust enrichment).

Birke Häcker read law at Tübingen, Oxford and Bonn. She holds qualifications in both English and German law. After spells at All Souls College, Oxford, and at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in Munich, she became Linklaters Professor of Comparative Law at the University of Oxford in 2016.

Sirko Harder joined Sussex Law School as a Reader in 2014. Previously he held posts at Monash University, the University of Leicester and the University of Aberdeen. His research and teaching focuses on the law of obligations, in particular remedies, and private international law.

Hector MacQueen has been the Professor of Private Law at Edinburgh University since 1994. He was Dean of the Edinburgh Law School from 1999 to 2003, and Dean of Research and Deputy Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science in the University of Edinburgh from 2004 to 2008. Since 2010 he has been a Scottish Law Commissioner. His main research interests are in the law of obligations (especially contract) and commercial law, legal history, and European private law.

Charles Mitchell is a Professor of Law at UCL, where he was Vice-Dean (Staffing) and then Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Laws between 2013 and 2016. The main focus of his research and teaching is on the law of unjust enrichment, trusts and equitable remedies. He has recently published the 19th edition of Underhill and Hayton’s Law Relating to Trusts and Trustees (2016), with David Hayton and Paul Matthews, and the 9th edition of Goff and Jones: The Law of Unjust Enrichment (2016), with Paul Mitchell and Stephen Watterson.

Paul Mitchell is Professor of Laws at UCL. He researches and writes on the law of obligations, often from a historical perspective. His recent publications include A History of Tort Law 1900-1950 (2014) and the 9th edition of Goff and Jones: The Law of Unjust Enrichment (2016), with Charles Mitchell and Stephen Watterson.

Pedro del Olmo Garcia is an Assistant Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He is a member of the European Law Institute, a Fellow of the European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law in Vienna, and a Fellow of the Institute of European and Comparative Private Law at Universitat de Girona. His research field is the law of obligations, and he has written on payments by third parties and subrogation, duress in contracts and novation of contracts, pure economic loss in tort law, punitive damages, directors’ and officers’ liability, etc.

Sir Philip Sales was called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn) in 1985. He was appointed First Treasury Junior Counsel (Common Law) in 1997. He became a QC in 2006 and continued to act in the re-named post of First Treasury Counsel (Common Law) until his appointment to the High Court (Chancery Division) in 2008. He was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2014.

Helen Scott is a Professor in the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town, having joined the UCT Law Faculty permanently in May 2009. She was previously a University Lecturer in Law at the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor in Law at St Catherine’s College Oxford. Her research interests include the comparative law of obligations (particularly tort/delict and unjust/unjustified enrichment) and civilian legal history (particularly Roman law). She is the author of Unjust Enrichment in South African Law: Rethinking Enrichment by Transfer(2014).

Stephen Watterson is a University Lecturer in Law at Cambridge University and John Collier Fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was previously a Senior Lecturer in Law at Bristol and then LSE. His publications include Subrogation: Law and Practice (2007), with Charles Mitchell, and the 9th edition of Goff and Jones: The Law of Unjust Enrichment (2016), with Charles Mitchell and Paul Mitchell.

Rebecca Williams is an Associate Professor at Pembroke College and the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. Her research interests include Criminal and Public Law and she is the author of Unjust Enrichment and Public Law: A Comparative Study of England, France and the EU (Hart, 2010).

Yeo Tiong Min is Dean of the School of Law, and Yong Pung How Chair Professor of Law at Singapore Management University. His research interests include the conflict of laws, equity, restitution, contract, and remedies.