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“At the Expense of”: Attribution in the Law of Unjust Enrichment


Professor Duncan Sheehan
School of Law

University of Leeds





This seminar will explore the central idea of “expense” in the law of unjust enrichment. All unjust enrichment actions require the claimant to prove that
1. The defendant has been enriched
2. At his (the claimant’s) expense
3. The presence of an unjust factor or cause of action
The expense requirement therefore provides the linkage between the claimant and defendant that demonstrates why the defendant should make restitution to the claimant, as opposed to anyone else. Two recent UK Supreme Court decisions: Lowick Rose v Swynson [2017] UKSC 32 and Investment Trust Companies v HMRC [2017] UKSC 29 explore the requirement in depth and the question whether the claimant needs to demonstrate a direct enrichment of the defendant or whether any causal connection will suffice. The Supreme Court has decided that there must be some transactional linkage between the two parties, but that this might include a series of closely connected transactions which were intended to function as one composite transaction.
The seminar will provide a summary of the limited previous case law and the extensive academic discussion as to the correct test, before examining these cases in detail, the parallels that emerge with the law of tracing, which has been recognised in Singapore as a means of demonstrating that an enrichment is at the claimant’s expense (Wee Chiaw Sek Anna v NG Li-Ann Genevieve [2013] SGCA 36), and the implications for the future development of law of restitution in both England and Singapore.


Duncan Sheehan joined the University of Leeds in January 2016 after 14 years at the University of East Anglia, where he was, successively, lecturer and senior lecturer in law and finally Professor of Commercial Law.
He is a graduate of Oxford University where he completed his doctorate on payments by mistake of law under the supervision of the late Professor Birks. He is interested in trusts and personal property law, especially secured transactions law. He is also interested in the law of unjust enrichment, and examines many of the issues involved from a comparative perspective, looking particularly at the mixed jurisdictions: Scotland and South Africa.
Duncan is a member of the Society of Legal Scholars Executive Committee, a member of the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project, and an academic member of the Chancery Bar Association. He is also a member of two Advisory Groups for respectively the English Law Commission’s Bills of Sale Project and the City of London Law Society’s Secured Transactions Code Project and was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland in March and April 2014.


a. Seminar fee
Seminar fee of S$200* (inclusive of GST) applies.
b. Group discount fee
Group discount fee of S$180* (inclusive of GST) applies if there are at least 10 participants from the same organisation.
c. SMU Alumni fee (for LLB / JD / LLM graduates)
Seminar fee of S$180* (inclusive of GST) applies for SMU LLB / JD / LLM Alumni.

*Please note that there will be no refund of any fees paid should the participant cancel the registration/ fail to attend the seminar. However, registration is transferable. Notice of any change in participant should be sent to the Academy via email:, by 4 April 2018.


SMU School of Law reserves the right to cancel or postpone any event. In such case, we will arrange for the refund of seminar fees paid.



Registration closes on 4 April 2018, subject to availability of seats. 


11 April 2018 (Wednesday)


2:30 PM - 5:45 PM
(Registration starts from 2:15 PM)


Singapore Management University
School of Law
Level 3, Seminar Room 3.09
55 Armenian Street
Singapore 179943


3 points (provided SILE's CPD Attendance Policy is complied with)


Corporate/ Commercial




Click HERE for map

2:15 PM Registration
2:30 PM Seminar (Part 1) commence
4:00 PM Tea Break
4:15 PM Seminar (Part 2) commence
5:45 PM End of Event



The SMU Law Academy (previously known as CLE) has an established track record of providing the legal profession with high quality seminars and other opportunities to remain fully informed about contemporary legal developments in Singapore and beyond. Its carefully curated listing of seminars is developed with the profession’s multi-faceted needs in mind and meets the requirements of the CPD scheme. The Academy also administers the Auditing Scheme which enables members of the legal profession to consolidate and upgrade their understanding of the law by auditing courses in the School’s LL.B., J.D. and LL.M. programmes. For an overview of upcoming SMU Law Academy events, please click here.



This programme is an Accredited CPD Activity under the SILE’s CPD Scheme. Participants who wish to claim CPD Points are reminded that they must comply strictly with the Attendance Policy set out in the CPD Guidelines. For this activity, this includes signing in on arrival and signing out at the conclusion of the activity in the manner required by the organiser, and not being absent from the entire activity for more than 15 minutes. Participants who do not comply with the Attendance Policy will not be able to obtain CPD Points for attending the activity. Please refer to for more information.


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