Subcontractors cannot successfully make a claim for unjust enrichment against owners.

Date:  April 2022

A recent Superior Court of Justice decision on the issue of costs reconfirmed the principle that subcontractors cannot make claims against owners in unjust enrichment because it would undermine the statutory scheme of the Construction Act.

To succeed in an unjust enrichment claim, the plaintiff must prove (1) that the defendant was enriched, (2) that the plaintiff suffered a corresponding deprivation, and (3) the absence of a juristic reason for that enrichment.

However, the comprehensive scheme of rights and obligations under the Construction Act (such as lien, holdback, and trust rights) is the juristic reason for any unjust enrichment by the owner, and therefore prevents a subcontractor from making out the test for unjust enrichment.

Click here for a link to the decision.

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