A quantum meruit example will show how quantum meruit is legally implemented for the sake of justice and fairness. When translated from Latin, Quantum meruit means "as much as he has earned," and when applied to the law, this term refers to the decided worth of services executed and paid for. In contract law, quantum meruit is a doctrine that indicates an agreement or promise to pay a fair sum for labor and goods, even when the monetary amount expected for the work performed is unclear.

Definition of Quantum Meruit

Quantum meruit refers to the true worth of performed services. The legal ideology of quantum meruit maintains that a party is not obligated to over-compensate monetarily, and the receiving party shouldn't expect to receive payment in an amount that exceeds the worth of the services provided. This doctrine is successfully used as an equitable remedy in a civil lawsuit when the bargain for services and goods was performed without disclosing a specific amount due in a written contract.

Quantum meruit is the monetary compensation for the merit of services and goods as the limited fulfillment of an agreement or contract. Quantum meruit also goes into effect when a contract doesn't exist or doesn't specify the cost for services rendered. Quantum meruit depicts the amount of burden on a contract or agreement inferred by law. It's an impartial doctrine, supported by the theory that no party who profits from the labor and goods of the other party should be unjustly enriched. The law dictates that a promise to compensate a fair sum for the labor and the goods provided exists even in the absence of a particular contract.

Situations happen when people sometimes unexpectedly contract services from others without signing a contract that designates payment or getting a price for the cost of those services before the services are rendered. A rational person would expect to pay the party who is providing those services for them. There is no question that the party providing those services deserves payment, but disputes often develop over amounts billed for services after the fact. That is where quantum meruit comes in and resolves payment disputes.

Fairness Determined by Quantum Meruit

The quantum meruit doctrine is one component of the law of restitution, otherwise known as the law of unjust enrichment. According to the law of unjust enrichment, two related but distinct remedies exist:

  • Quantum Meruit
  • Constructive Trust

In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff has the option to claim both remedies based on the same facts. Even though claims made for both remedies could be firmly based on unjust enrichment, the foundations on which the awards are set, the remedies are dissimilar. The results are different, depending on the remedy the court of law chooses.

Generally, when the courts of law find that unjust enrichment has occurred, they enforce a constructive trust, so the awards are higher than the awards given for damages based on quantum meruit. Quantum meruit provides an assertion for monetary compensation to put the plaintiff back into the financial position they would have been in had the services been paid for as agreed.

Similarly, constructive trusts are always applied as a matter of law. The occurrence of a constructive trust happens regardless of either party's intention when a court of law places a duty upon a party to sustain certain property for another party. The party responsible for the property becomes by enforcement of the law, a constructive trustee for the party for whom he is indebted to for the performance of the responsibility. When a court of law makes a decree of a constructive trust, this makes an implemented interest in personal or real property.

Questions About the Quantum Meruit Example

An example of quantum meruit is sometimes seen in business transactions, and it is helpful to be able to recognize them and safeguard yourself from possible occurrences by knowing about quantum meruit. 

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