You may be entitled to make a claim for services even if there
is no contract. When a service is not performed you have two
options to rectify the situation – you can either make a
claim for contractual damage or through Quantum Meruit. In cases
where a party has performed work for another party and there is no
contract on foot, the party providing the services may still be
entitled to make a claim for the work they have performed.
This type of claim is known as a Quantum Meruit claim and means
"the amount he deserves" or "what the job is
worth". A successful Quantum Meruit claim entitles the
claiming party to the reasonable value of services performed. As
can be guessed a lot of the case law surrounding Quantum Meruit
claims turn on the question of what is "reasonable".
Quantum Meruit comes from the law of unjust enrichment which is
established by the following:
The receiving party must have been enriched by receiving a
The "benefit" must have been gained at the expense of
the party performing the work;
It would be unjust, in the circumstances, to allow the
receiving party to retain the benefit.
The absence of a contract is not the only situation which may
give rise to a possible Quantum Meruit claim. Other situations
A contract exists but the contract does not provide for a fixed
Work commences before negotiations for a contract have been
settled and the negotiations subsequently fail;
Work done outside of the scope of works provided for in the
Work done under a void, unenforceable or terminated
For example Party A contracts Party B to do certain work under a
contract for a fixed price. The contract states that work done
outside the scope of the contract must be paid.
Party B provides Party A with services which are outside the
scope of works as provided for in the contract and then invoices
for that work.
If Party A disputes that they should pay the invoice then Party
B then has a Quantum Meruit claim against Party A for the
reasonable value of the services provided outside the scope of
Party A received a "benefit" from Party B in
receiving the services;
Party A received the "benefit" at the expense of
Party B in performing the work;
It would be unjust, in these circumstances, to allow Party A to
retain the "benefit"
As stated above a significant number of Quantum Meruit cases
deal with the definition of "reasonable" in the context
of services provided. Unfortunately the Courts have not provided a
clear guideline in this regard.
It is difficult to definitively say what components should be
included in a Quantum Meruit claim as each case will be decided on
its own facts and merits. Regardless, Contractors and Principals
should be mindful of the fact that what is written and signed does
not always dictate the relationship between relevant parties.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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