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Restitution (Specific) - Contract

. Atlantic Lottery Corp. Inc. v. Babstock

In Atlantic Lottery Corp. Inc. v. Babstock (SCC, 2020) the Supreme Court of Canada applies current unjust enrichment law:
[69] The plaintiffs also rely on the principled unjust enrichment framework (or what the Court of Appeal referred to as “unjust enrichment simpliciter”). This claim requires establishing that ALC was enriched, that the plaintiffs suffered a corresponding deprivation, and that the enrichment and corresponding deprivation occurred in the absence of any juristic reason therefor (Moore, at para. 37). The appellants argue that this claim is bound to fail because, even if ALC has been enriched at the plaintiff’s expense, there is a juristic reason for the exchange.

[70] The juristic reason element of the unjust enrichment analysis proceeds in two stages. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s enrichment cannot be justified by any of the established categories of juristic reason. If none of the established categories of juristic reason are present, the plaintiff has a prima facie case for unjust enrichment. At the second stage, the defendant can rebut the plaintiff’s prima facie case by showing that there is a residual reason to deny recovery (Moore, at paras. 57-58).

[71] Here, I do not have to go beyond the first stage of the analysis. The plaintiffs’ own pleadings allege that there was a contract between ALC and the plaintiffs under which the plaintiffs paid to play VLTs. A defendant that acquires a benefit pursuant to a valid contract is justified in retaining that benefit (Moore, at para. 57). Nothing in the pleadings, apart from perhaps the allegations of criminal conduct that I have determined are bound to fail, could serve to vitiate the alleged contract between the plaintiffs and ALC. It follows that I agree with the appellants that the plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim has no reasonable chance of success.


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Last modified: 04-02-23
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