On appeal from: [2014] EWCA Civ 1047.

The respondent was entitled to recover money transferred to the appellant in furtherance of an illegal contract that was ultimately not performed. The appeal was dismissed unanimously, although the reasoning was by 5-4 majority. Lord Toulson, for the majority, held: based on authority, a claimant such as the respondent who satisfied the ordinary requirements of a claim for unjust enrichment, should not be debarred from enforcing his claim by reason only of the fact that the money was paid for an unlawful purpose. There may be rare cases where the enforcement of such a claim might be regarded as undermining the integrity of the justice system, but there are no such circumstances in this case. The minority concluded there was no inconsistency in permitting a party to an illegal arrangement to recover any sum paid under it, so long as restitution was possible. Restitution simply returns the parties to the positon they would have been, had no such illegal arrangement been made.

For judgment, please download: [2015] UKSC 42
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court website (16 Feb 2016 morning session), (16 Feb 2016 afternoon session), (17 Feb 2016 morning session), (17 Feb 2016 afternoon session)