The first Award that decided a claim of unjust enrichment was Benjamin R. Isaiah v. Bank Mellat. In that case, the claimant established that he was the beneficial owner of funds used to purchase a bank check drawn in January 1979 by the respondent bank’s predecessor, which check was subsequently dishonored for insufficient funds. As the check was payable to one of the claimant’s associates, who was an Israeli, the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal had no jurisdiction over a claim based on the check, as such a claim would not satisfy the requirement of the Claims Settlement Declaration that a claim must be owned continuously by nationals of the same State from the date it arose until the date the Declaration entered into force. The concept of unjust enrichment had its origins in Roman law, where it emerged as an equitable device ‘to cover those cases in which a general action for damages was not available’.
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