Restitution, in the context of civil law, refers to a reimbursement provided to a party based on the unjust enrichment of the wrongdoer. Although the terms restitution and compensation are often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between them. While compensation is awarded on the basis of the loss suffered by the victim, restitution is awarded based on the profit the wrongdoer made through the wrongful act.
The party filing a civil lawsuit (plaintiff) can seek either compensatory damages based on losses suffered, or restitution, which is based on the unjust enrichment of the accused arising from the latter's wrongful act against the plaintiff. Regardless of whether the losses suffered by the plaintiff are big or small, however, in cases where the plaintiff seeks restitution, the judge or jury will look at the total gains made by the wrongdoer (defendant) from the wrongful act.