oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - A road through the enrichment-forest? Experiences with a general enrichment action

Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



It would be an exaggeration to descriptionbe the area of unjustified enrichment as one of the major legal jungles in South African law. This is, however not because problems do not exist. From the methodical point of view South African law is, to a large extent, a case-law system, and where there are not many problematical cases in the practice of the courts, there is no real stimulus for principle research. That enrichment is of secondary relevance only in South Africa can be gauged by the limited place set aside for it in the textbooks: in a recent comprehensive introduction to the South African legal system it is no more than a brief appendix to the law of delict, while Newman and Mcquaid-Mason in their new edition of Lee and Honoré do not even mention it. The only major contribution to this branch of the law, W de Vos's Verrykingsaanspreeklikheid, is largely unexplored. It is used from time to time, but its systematical implications have not yet been fully appreciated. That is particularly evident in the cause célèbre of Nortje v Pool where in 1966 the Supreme Court rejected the idea of a general enrichment action. It is the purpose of this article to establish whether the fears, which prevented the Appellate Division from accepting a general enrichment action are justfied.

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