An equitable remedy that restore a person to the position they would have been in if not for the improper action of another. Reimbursements ordered by courts as part of a criminal sentence or civil or administrative penalty.
Restitution is a standard remedy for breach of contract and for the return of specific property and monies paid.
The longstanding rule, as stated in Russell v. Farley, 105 U.S. 433 (1881), that "[w]here no bond or undertaking has been required, it is clear that the court has no power to award damages sustained by either party in consequence of the litigation, except by making such a decree in reference to the costs of the suit as it may deem equitable and just." See Restatement of Restitution Section(s) 74 (1937) and Comment a. This practice reflects the policy that legitimate business activity upon favorable judgment is not a wrong. As Lord Mansfield put it, restitution "lies for money paid by mistake; or upon a consideration which happens to fail; or for money got through imposition (express or implied); or extortion; or oppression; or an undue advantage taken of the plaintiff's situation, contrary to the laws made for the protection of persons under those circumstances." Moses v. McFerlan, 97 Eng. Rep. 676, 681 (K.B. 1760), cited in Richard A. Epstein, The Ubiquity of the Benefit Principle, 67 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1369, 1370 & n.6 (1994).
Cases involving restitution include railroad and utility rate cases wherein overcharges were restored to the customers, viz. Arkadelphia Milling Co. v. St. Louis S.W. Ry. Co., 249 U.S. 134 (1919) and Baltimore & Ohio Ry. Co. v. United States, 279 U.S. 781 (1929), and cases wherein government agencies recovered overpayments based on statute or regulation, viz. Maryland Dep't of Human Resources v. United States Dep't of Agriculture, 976 F.2d 1462 (4th Cir. 1992) and National Kidney Patients Ass'n v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 1127 (D.C. Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 113 S. Ct. 966 (1993).