Quasi Contract Example: Everything You Need to Know
A quasi contract example involves an agreement between at least two parties who had no prior obligation to each other. 3 min read
A quasi contract example involves an agreement between at least two parties who had no prior obligation to each other. It is a contract that's legally recognized in a court of law. More specifically, this type of contract is created by court order, not between the parties in question.
Quasi contracts arise when a dispute exists over payment for goods and services. What's difficult about these circumstances is that no official agreement has been created between the parties involved. The court steps in to prevent what's known as unjust enrichment. In essence, it's trying to correct a situation where one party has acquired something to the detriment of the other party.
Quasi contracts are also referred to as implied-in-law contracts. They're a special kind of contract, lacking mutual assent, but ordered by the court to avoid an injustice. When these were first instituted into the American legal system, they were typically used to enforce an obligation to restitution.
You will hear the term "unjust enrichment" mentioned throughout quasi contract proceedings. This term refers to the individual who received a benefit unfairly. It doesn't matter if he or she enjoyed that benefit by chance or as a result of someone else's misfortune.
When someone has been unjustly enriched, they've escaped paying for the benefit they've enjoyed. This makes their benefit ethically and morally inappropriate, and it must be returned somehow.
To prove unjust enrichment, five elements are required.
- The defendant must have experienced some type of enrichment.
- The claimant must have suffered some type of disadvantage, due to the defendant's enrichment.
- The enrichment must be proven unjust.
- There must be a lack of explanation surrounding the enrichment and disadvantage.
- There must be no other way to remedy the disadvantageous enrichment, except through legal recourse.
In summary, the defendant must have acknowledged receipt of, or accepted, something of value while making no effort to pay. Then, the plaintiff must explain why it was unjust for the defendant to accept the item of value, thereby receiving unjust enrichment.
Throughout the proceeding, the claimant will be seeking restitution. More specifically, the claimant will want payment in compensation for what was originally promised. All this is done in an effort to correct an injustice. If payment cannot be achieved, then the defendant may be ordered to return the item they received in enrichment.
Quasi Contract Examples
Let's take the most basic example first. Let's say you pay for a pizza to be delivered. If that pizza is delivered to another house, and someone else enjoys your three-topping special, a quasi contract could be initiated. Now, the pizzeria could be court ordered to reimburse you for the amount you paid for that pie.
Here's another example. Let's say a school district hires a roofing company to complete a specific task. As that task is being completed, the roofing company uncovers a leak that needs to be fixed. The roofing company fixes that leak and, when it comes time for payment, the school district only pays the roofing company for that initial, specific task, and not the work surrounding the leak in the roof. In this instance, the roofing company may have a case for a quasi contract, in order to seek restitution for the added work to fix the leak.
Here's a more grandiose example. Let's say Mary tells Alex that she will hire him to work as a web developer if he moves to be closer to her business. They forego any sort of formal agreement, as Mary assures Alex they'll work out the details when he arrives.
Alex proceeds to quit his current job, move a thousand miles away, and rent a new apartment. When he meets with Mary, she tells him she doesn't have a job for him. In this situation, Alex might want to go to court, showing that Mary's statements caused him to rely on her word and move halfway across the country. Then, Mary would be estopped from denying her statements and pay some sort of restitution to Alex.
Quasi Contract Claims
Each of these examples epitomizes a quasi contract claim. An official offer and acceptance may be lacking, but that shouldn't stop one of the parties from admitting the essence of a contract-like relationship. In the end, equity may prevent one of the parties from denying the existence of a contract-like existence.
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