Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Juristic Reason Definition:

An explanation based upon law for the enrichment of one at the detriment of another.

A concept essential to the doctrine of unjust enrichment which arises when three elements are satisfied: an enrichment; a corresponding deprivation; and an absence of juristic reason for the enrichment.

In a family law case, Sorochan, Chief Justice Dickson of Canada's Supreme Court opined:

"[I]t is often suggested that the reasonable expectation of the claimant in obtaining an actual interest in the property as opposed to monetary relief, constitutes another important consideration in determining if the constructive trust remedy is appropriate. A reasonable expectation of benefit is part and parcel of the third pre-condition of unjust enrichment (the absence of a juristic reason for the enrichment)."

In Hill Estate, Justice Huband wrote:

"Decided cases are of little assistance in determining what is meant by juristic reason. It simply comes down to this: if there is an explanation based upon law for the enrichment of one at the detriment of another, then the enrichment will not be considered unjust and no remedy, whether by constructive trust or otherwise, will be available. For example, there might be a contract between the parties under the terms of which an enrichment by one at the expense of the other is contemplated or justified."

In 2006, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal wrote, in Imperial Oil, an employment law case:

"To succeed on an unjust enrichment claim, the employer had to establish three things: an enrichment of the employees, a corresponding deprivation of the employer and the absence of any juristic reason for the enrichment. The enrichment and deprivation are to be assessed on a straightforward economic approach.

"The absence of a juristic reason is to be assessed in two steps. First, the claimant must show that there is no juristic reason to deny recovery based on an established category. These include a contract, a disposition of law, a donative intent and other valid common law, equitable or statutory obligations. Second, the defendant may be able to rebut the claimant’s prima facie case established in accordance with the first step by showing that there is another reason to deny recovery. This is a residual defence in which courts may take into account all of the circumstances of the transaction in order to determine whether there is another reason to deny recovery."


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