In estate litigation this scenario comes up quite often. One family member stays in mom and dad’s house after their death and appears to be freeloading at the expense of the others. This can happen in estate litigation when a deceased person fails to adequately document their intentions with respect to the ongoing occupation of their home after their passing.
As set out in the blogs of my colleagues, no discussion of the doctrine of unjust enrichment is complete without a thorough discussion of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Moore v. Sweet.
Lawyers and laypeople alike may be aware of the equitable principle that no one should be able to profit from committing a wrongful act. The doctrine of unjust enrichment is similar and deals with transfers of property from one person to another where there is no valid reason to allow the transferee to retain the property. The doctrine has specific application in estates litigation.
The Supreme Court of Canada explains that “[r]emedies for unjust enrichment are restitutionary in nature; that is, the object of the remedy is to require the defendant to repay or reverse the unjustified enrichment”.
This blog will examine some of the defences that can be asserted to a claim for unjust enrichment.
This blog is intended to look at the last part of the unjust enrichment test and what exactly the court means by “juristic reason” and what the courts have found such reasons to include.
Unjust enrichment is an independent cause of action whereby the plaintiff seeks either a monetary or proprietary award against the defendant. The basis for the claim is that the defendant was enriched at the plaintiff’s expense without juristic reason.
“Unjust enrichment” is a very evocative legal phrase. The use of the term “unjust” tells us that something important is happening that merits our attention, and indeed that is the case.
Many clients intuitively know they have been wronged. However, what feels like a meritorious claim sometimes has no readily apparent basis in law. In some instances, the courts have historically addressed these moral claims by employing principles of "equity" to give deserving parties a remedy. One such tool employed by the courts is the doctrine of unjust enrichment.
It has been 18 years since the Court of Appeal for Ontario decided Stone v. Stone. In this case the Court characterized inter vivos gifts from a father to his adult children as a fraudulent conveyance because the gifts were intended to thwart a spouse’s entitlement under the Family Law Act. Let’s see how courts have applied this seminal case.