Quantum Meruit means  "as much as he deserved" in Latin, and when applied to the law, it refers to the determined value of the services performed and paid. In contract law, quantum meruit is a doctrine that implies a promise or agreement to pay a fair sum for labor and provided materials. This doctrine goes into effect even if there is doubt as to the amount due for the work done under circumstances. This would occur if there were no specific lawfully enforceable agreement between the parties involved and payment is in arrears.

What Does Quantum Meruit Do?

Quantum meruit establishes the amount of payment for services when there is no existing contract or when there is uncertainty as to the amount expected for the labor executed, but done under circumstances when payment would be due at the time of services. This would include jobs when a contract probably wouldn't exist or assess the amount due at the time when unexpected events would cause a job to end before its completion.

If a person provided services but the job ended before its completion due to some unforeseen occurrence and they sued for payment that was due to them, the presiding judge or jury would calculate the amount that they had coming to them based on:

  • The time it took to complete the work
  • The regular or common rate of pay, otherwise known as the customary charge
  • Any materials provided and compensation for them

A court of law can also quantify an amount owed either by deciding how the defendant has gained from the business transaction and comparing that finding to the amount that the plaintiff has employed in materials and services. The monetary compensation due to them and its determination gets is based on quantum meruit because the agreement to do work for pay would imply that a contract existed.

Quantum Meruit: The Law of Contracts

According to contract law, quantum meruit is a doctrine that states there is an inferred promise to pay a fair amount for work and the materials provided, even without a lawful, enforceable agreement between the parties. A party who carries out a worthwhile service for another party normally participates in a written, legally binding agreement or contract before fulfilling the service, especially when the party providing the service is in the business of executing that service.

Most professional workers hired to do extensive repairs and/or services, that require a lot of materials and time to perform the service, require the signing of a formal agreement with the owner of the house or business before beginning the service. If there was an absence of an agreement or formal contract, the professional service provider may be incapable of recovering their losses in a court of law if the deal goes wrong.

Benefits of Quantum Meruit

Quantum meruit benefits the party providing the service for which they would expect payment because it permits the party to recoup losses if there wasn't a binding contract or agreement. With the allowance to recover the monetary worth of materials and labor, quantum meruit stops the other party involved from receiving "unjust enrichment". Similarly, the other party would receive "unjust enrichment" if they had an advantage given to them by not paying for the service when fairness requires that payment is owed.

Quantum meruit is also used to handle situations where there is no contract or when a contract is present but is not enforceable. In cases like these, it is implied that a contract exists to prevent an unfair result. These contracts are known as quasi-contracts. Quantum meruit also has the jurisdiction to award damages in the amount determined to be reasonable and fair as compensation for the party who provided services in a quasi-contractual situation.

Questions About Quantum Meruit

Quantum meruit sometimes occurs in business transactions and it is helpful to be able to recognize it and safeguard yourself from possible repercussions by knowing about quantum meruit. 

If you want to learn more about quantum meruit or you have any legal questions concerning quantum meruit pertaining to business or contract law, post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel has the most knowledgeable and experienced lawyers that are ready to assist you with your legal needs. UpCounsel accepts only the top five percent of lawyers, coming from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, having an average of 14 years of legal experience which includes working with or on behalf of companies like Menlo Ventures, Airbnb, and Google.