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Sender:
Colin Riegels
Date:
Mon, 1 Dec 1997 21:35:23
Re:
Taylor v. Dickens

 

Given the popularity of one particular set of hypothetical facts put to young Restitution students, it is perhaps surprising that the recent decision in Taylor v. Dickens (The Times, November 24, 1997) has not attracted comment on this mailing list.

The facts will bring feelings of deja vu to all who have studied the subject. P had worked for T for many years without reward expecting, as T had promised, that T would leave him something in her will. T changed her will without telling P and then died. P sought to maintain a claim against the estate in both contract and by way of estoppel. Both claims failed.

A claim for quantum meruit was, I believe, neither pleaded nor argued, and thus the case provides no insight (and nor will the likely appeal) into the application of restitutionary principles in the circumstances. It is though, perhaps illustrative of the fact that the grip which the subject enjoys over academia has yet to extend to practice.

However, those who would advocate the wholesale expansion of the recovery of unjust enrichment into entirely unprecedented areas transforming the scope of the law of obligations might do well to heed the words of the learned judge at first instance. To the suggestion that there was a general right of equitable intervention in response to any unconscionability he asserted: "[i]f there were such a jurisdiction one might as well forget the law of contract and judge every civil dispute with a portable palm tree."

Words to remember indeed.

 

COLIN RIEGELS, LL.B., B.C.L. (Oxon)
Barrister
One Paper Buildings
Temple, London, EC4Y 7EP
(0171) 583-7355


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" These messages are all © their authors. Nothing in them constitutes legal advice, to anyone, on any topic, least of all Restitution. Be warned that very few propositions in Restitution command universal agreement, and certainly not this one. Have a nice day! "


     
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