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Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

Unjust enrichment in Asia Pacific (Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore)

Man Yip*


1. Agarcorp Sdn Bhd v Jagen A/L Manoharan [2019] 1 LNS 1930 (Mal HC: Wong CL J).
“Unjust factors” approach—valid contract bars a claim in unjust enrichment
P commenced action against D1 for breach of D1’s contract of employment. The losses sustained by P for the breach of the contract were found to have been minimal. P’s biggest claim against D1 was in unjust enrichment, to claw back the salaries paid to D1 since 2015, on account of D1’s dedication of time and efforts to setting up two companies, D5 an D6.
Decision: P’s claim in unjust enrichment failed. (1) P was not able to show that a relevant unjust factor applied to the facts of the case. (2) Salary was validly paid to D1 pursuant to his employment contract.
Held: (1) In order to succeed in a claim in unjust enrichment, a plaintiff must be able to show that a relevant unjust factor supports its claim (Wee Chiaw Sek Anna v Ng Li-Ann Genevieve (sole executrix of the estate of Ng Hock Seng, deceased) [2013] 3 SLR 801 followed). (2) The general rule is that where the defendant is entitled to the benefit on the basis of a valid contract, the contract would normally bar the claim in unjust enrichment.
Comment: The court did not cite and consider the landmark decision of Dream Property Sdn Bhd v Atlas Housing Sdn Bhd [2015] 1 CLJ 719, in which the Federal Court of Malaysia adopted the “absence of basis” approach.
2. Akbank TAS v Mainford Ltd [2020] HKCFI 396 (HK CFI: Recorder Houghton SC).
P was a victim of a fraud perpetrated through the hacking of certain computer installations resulting in monies being paid out of its bank accounts to the bank accounts of various recipients, including D1. It was not disputed that a sum of P’s monies was received into D1’s bank account and was rapidly remitted onwards. P sued D1 in unjust enrichment, seeking restitution of the sum of money paid into D1’s bank account. D1’s defence was that it was the victim of fraud by hacking and that it was unaware of the money being paid into its bank account and the subsequent unauthorised payment out of its account.
Unjust enrichment in Asia Pacific


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