Restitution and Unjust Enrichment Discussion Group — Samuel Beswick

Post by Samuel Beswick, Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, SJD candidate, Harvard Law School

Private law theory is enjoying a revival in Cambridge, M.A. Alongside the HLS Private Law Workshop, the Project on the Foundations of Private Law and the Law and Philosophy Society, last Thursday saw the launch of the Restitution and Unjust Enrichment Discussion Group at Harvard. The RUED Group brings together scholars and students in the Boston area who share an interest in the law of unjust enrichment to meet and discuss topical developments in the field.s

We kicked things off with discussion of two short review papers by Steve Hedley: University College Cork Professor, editor of the Private Law Theory blog and Comic Sans aficionado. The papers were Farewell to Unjustified Enrichment? and What is ‘Unjust Enrichment’ for?—responses to Nils Jansen and Charlie Webb, respectively. Harvard lawyers who hark from across the common law world met to discuss Professor Hedley’s lucid critiques. His assertions that restitution’s subject-matter is “rather bland in moral terms” and that the heart of unjust enrichment might be empty (or just circular) engendered vigorous debate—as did the discussion between the Brits, the Aussies and the Kiwis as to what “unjust enrichment” even is.

The RUED Group will meet once a month on a Thursday evening (from 5:30pm), with one paper chosen in advance as the focus of discussion.

Our next session is on November 10 when we’ll be discussing Graham Virgo’s Reflections on Bank of Cyprus UK Ltd v Menelaou, critiquing the infamous UK Supreme Court judgment which Professor Virgo candidly brands “arguably the worst decision in the history of the Supreme Court, betraying such ignorance of the law and legal principle and such confusion about the nature of judging that one is left with a sense of bemusement bordering on frustration.”

We welcome interested unjust enrichment scholars and students living in or visiting the area to join us. Do contact me if you’d like to sign up for the RUED Group mailing list. (And refer to the Comments Section below for updates regarding future sessions.)



8 thoughts on “Restitution and Unjust Enrichment Discussion Group — Samuel Beswick”

  1. This is a very interesting group on one of the most intriguing topics in private law theory. Thanks for providing the links for the papers of Professor Hedley Samuel.
    Is there a full text online for “What is ‘Unjust Enrichment’ for?” by the way?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. We had a great discussion on the Menelaou case at our last meeting. Our next session is on December 8th at 5:30pm. The primary paper for discussion is Chaim Saiman’s “Restitution in America: Why the US Refuses to Join the Global Restitution Party” (

    Some of our members will also lead discussion on Prof Virgo’s recent paper,
    “‘All the World’s a Stage’: The Seven Ages of Unjust Enrichment” (, and Prof Hedley’s response (

    Email me if you’d like to join us!

  3. At our next session on Wednesday, March 8th (5:00pm) we are thrilled to host Professor Chaim Saiman who will be presenting his work-in-progress paper, The Distribution of Doctrinal Complexity Across Common Law Systems. Message me for details if you’d like to attend.

  4. Our final meet-up for the 2016/17 year will be this Tuesday, April 25th at 6pm.

    The paper for discussion is Julie A. Roin, Retroactive Taxation, Unfunded Pensions, and Shadow Bankruptcies (2017) 102 Iowa L. Rev. 559, which argues that states facing budgetary distress could adopt retroactive taxation on voters who elect fiscally irresponsible political representatives (in order to benefit from short-term gains while burdening future taxpayers with the long-term costs). The paper is here:

    Email me if you’d like to join us.


Leave a Comment