NH Law About... Unjust Enrichment

Introduction to... Unjust Enrichment

Updated September 22, 2017.

Unjust enrichment is where one person receives a benefit or financial advantage which he or she did not earn or deserve, at the expense or disadvantage of someone else.  Unjust enrichment is a common law (judicially-created) rule which is based in equity and which promotes fairness in the resolution of cases. 

Restitution is a broad and flexible remedy for unjust enrichment cases. It provides an equitable solution, or a fair way, for courts to resolve a case of unjust enrichment. We've listed quite a few cases below to illustrate some of the situations in which claims of unjust enrichment and restitution have arisen in New Hampshire.  

Because unjust enrichment is such a broad and varied concept, the resources listed in this guide can give people materials for comparison to help them understand when the legal concept of unjust enrichment may apply to their particular legal problem. And, since a consultation with an attorney is the best way to get the answer, a link to the NH Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service is also provided.

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. 

 


Read about... Unjust Enrichment

WEBSITES

The Free Dictionary. Unjust enrichment

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

A general equitable principle that no person should be allowed to profit at another's expense without making restitution for the reasonable value of any property, services, or other benefits that have been unfairly received and retained.   GO>

Wikipedia. Unjust enrichment

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

The law of unjust enrichment is closely related to, but not co-extensive with, the law of restitution.   GO>


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Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference / by Richard Stim. (Berkeley, Cal.: Nolo, 2016). Encyclopedia  GO>

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Contracts in a Nutshell / by Claude D. Rohwer and Anthony M. Skrocki. 7th ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West/Thomson 2010).   GO>

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Remedies in a Nutshell / by William M. Tabb and Rachel M. Janutis. 2d ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West/Thomson 2013)  GO>

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

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Read the law about... Unjust Enrichment

NEW HAMPSHIRE CASES

122 N.H. 120 (1982). Petrie-Clemons v. Butterfield

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

In the absence of a contractual agreement, a trial court may require an individual to make restitution for unjust enrichment if he has received a benefit which would be unconscionable to retain. Unjust enrichment may exist when an individual receives a benefit as a result of his wrongful acts, or when he innocently receives a benefit and passively accepts it. We have held that the trial court must determine whether the facts and equities of a particular case warrant a remedy in restitution. The correct measure of restitution for unjust enrichment is the value of the benefit received by the unjustly enriched party.   GO>

146 N.H. 130 (2001). Kowalski v. Cedars of Portsmouth Condominium Association

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

A trial court may require an individual to make restitution for unjust enrichment if he has received a benefit which would be unconscionable for him to retain. To entitle one to restitution, it must be shown that there was unjust enrichment either through wrongful acts or passive acceptance of a benefit that would be unconscionable to retain.   GO>

150 N.H. 427 (2003). In re Haller

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Restitution is an equitable remedy typically applied to contracts implied in law to disgorge the benefit of unjust enrichment. [T]o be entitled to restitution, there must not only be unjust enrichment, but also the person sought to be charged must have wrongfully secured a benefit, or passively received one which it would be unconscionable to retain.   GO>

150 N.H. 655 (2004). Miller v. Slania Enterprises

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

The plaintiff sued for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, violation of the Consumer Protection Act, improper security deposit deductions, and unjust enrichment.   GO>

159 N.H. 206 (2006). Clapp v. Goffstown School Dist.

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Unjust enrichment is an equitable remedy, found where an individual receives a benefit which would be unconscionable for him to retain. However, [w]hile it is said that a defendant is liable if `equity and good conscience' requires, this does not mean that a moral duty meets the demands of equity. Unjust enrichment is not a boundless doctrine, but is, instead, narrower, more predictable, and more objectively determined than the implications of the words `unjust enrichment'. One general limitation is that unjust enrichment shall not supplant the terms of an agreement. It is a well-established principle that the court ordinarily cannot allow recovery under a theory of unjust enrichment where there is a valid, express contract covering the subject matter at hand.   GO>

159 N.H. 601 (2010). General Insulation Co. v. Eckman Construction

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Restitution and quantum meruit recovery based upon unjust enrichment are allowed by the courts as alternative remedies to an action for damages for breach of contract. The party seeking restitution must establish not only unjust enrichment, but that the person sought to be charged had wrongfully secured a benefit or passively received one which it would be unconscionable to retain, and unjust enrichment generally does not form an independent basis for a cause of action. While damages in unjust enrichment are measured by the value of what was inequitably retained, in quantum meruit, by contrast, the damages are based on the value of the services provided by the plaintiff.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>
 

FOR MORE HELP ...

Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at (603) 229-0002, or submit an online referral request. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and 9:00AM to 3:00 PM on Fridays.   GO>

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: September 22, 2017

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>


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