Patel v Mirza [2016]

January 12, 2024
Micheal James

Jurisdiction / Tag(s):

Introduction to Patel v Mirza [2016]:

Patel and Mirza were parties involved in a contractual agreement. Patel provided money to Mirza as part of an arrangement based on confidential information for making financial investments. However, this information was obtained unlawfully, raising questions about the legality of the contract. The key legal question centered on whether Patel could demand the return of the funds paid to Mirza, given the contract’s illegality due to the use of insider information.

Facts of the Case:

The case stemmed from a financial agreement between Patel and Mirza where Patel provided money to Mirza for investments made using inside information. However, this information was acquired unlawfully, making the contract illegal. Subsequently, Patel sought to recover the funds from Mirza, initiating the legal dispute. The central contention revolved around the implications of an illegal contract and the entitlement to reclaim money paid under such circumstances.

Legal Issues Raised:

The primary legal issue in Patel v Mirza [2016] revolved around the concept of illegality in contracts and its implications on seeking remedies. The court grappled with determining whether Patel, having engaged in an illegal contract, had the legal right to reclaim the money paid to Mirza. This involved examining the broader legal principles governing contracts tainted by illegality and the extent to which individuals involved in such contracts could seek restitution or remedies.

Lower Court Decisions:

Prior to reaching the UKSC, the case underwent examination in lower courts, where judgments were rendered based on existing legal interpretations. These lower court decisions contributed to shaping the legal arguments and discussions presented in the UKSC. The rationale behind these previous decisions formed an essential part of the legal discourse and had an impact on the final verdict in the Supreme Court.

Arguments Presented in the UKSC:

In the UKSC, Patel argued for the return of funds on the basis that the illegal nature of the contract should not prevent recovery. Patel contended that allowing the retention of the funds by Mirza would be unjust enrichment. Conversely, Mirza argued against repayment, citing the illegality of the contract as a basis for non-restitution.

UKSC Decision:

The United Kingdom Supreme Court ruled that Patel could recover the money paid to Mirza under the illegal contract. The Court emphasized the importance of not allowing unjust enrichment and decided that, in this case, public policy considerations did not prevent the recovery of funds. The judgment highlighted that when determining claims involving illegal contracts, courts should consider various factors, including the nature and purpose of the illegality, public interest, and the parties’ relative culpability.


Patel v Mirza [2016] served as a landmark case in establishing guidelines on the recovery of funds in contracts tainted by illegality. The decision emphasized fairness and prevented unjust enrichment while considering public policy implications. This judgment significantly contributed to the understanding of how courts should approach cases involving illegal contracts, providing clarity and guidance for future legal proceedings in similar circumstances.

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