Quasi Contracts
Quasi Contracts

Quasi Contracts

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  • Pages: 8 (3952 words)
  • Published: May 23, 2017
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Under the general heading of the Quasi contract there has been grouped a number of cases which have little or no affinity with contract. A simple illustration is afforded by the action to recover money paid by mistake. If the plaintiff on an erroneous interpretation of the facts, pays to the defendant a sum of money which he does not really owe, law, no less than justice, will require he defendant to restore it. But his obligation is manifestly not based upon the consent, even in the extended meaning borne by the word in the English law, and its description as a quasi contractual liability serves only to emphasize its remoteness from any genuine conception of contract.

This shows that there are many situations in which Law as well as justice require that a certain person be required to conform an obligation, although he has not broken any contract nor committed any tort. n another example for Quasi Contract would be worthy of Quoting for the better understanding of Quasi Contract, that is if a person in whose home certain goods have been left by mistake is bound to restore them. This shows that a person cannot entertain unjust benefits at the cost of some other person. such kind of obligations are generally described, for the want of better or more appropriate name, as Quasi Contractual Obligations.

This would be better to explain it up that Quasi contract consists of the Contractual Obligation which is entered upon not because the parties has consented to it but because law does not allow a person to have unjustified benefit at the cost of other party.


So far as there was not an established rule of Quasi Contractual obligation the English Lawyers were content to enumerate the cases of the Quasi Contract for which they are provided a remedy as to many species of “indebitatus assumpsit”, but they evaded the odious task of rationalization.

But as soon as the urge was felt to explore their juristic basis, controversy was born. The first and the most ambitious attempt to provide such a basis was made by Lord Mansfield in Moses v. Macferlan in year 1760 Thus it was Lord MANSFIELD, who is considered t

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be the real founder of such obligations, explained them on the principle that Law as well as Justice should try to prevent “Unjust Enrichment”, that is enrichment of one person at the cost of another.

His Lordship offered this explanation in Moses v. Macferlan:

Facts of the case:

One Jacob issued four promissory notes to Moses and the latter indorsed them to Macferlan, excluding, by a written agreement, his personal liability on the endorsement. Even so Macferlan sued Moses on the endorsement and he was held liable despite the agreement. Moses was thus compelled to discharge a liability which he had excluded and, therefore, sued to recover back his money from Macferlan. He was allowed to do so.

After making the defendant liable to restore the money Lord MANSFIELD continued as follows: After stating that such money cannot be recovered where the person to whom it is given can “retain it with a safe conscience”, he stated that “here it lies for the money paid by mistake; or upon a consideration which happens to be fail; or for money got through imposition; or extortion; or oppression; or for an undue advantage taken off the plaintiff’s situation, contrary to laws made for the protection of the persons under those circumstances.

In one word the gist of this kind of action is that the defendant, upon the circumstances of the case, is obliged by ties of the natural justice and equity to refund the money. ”


(Moses v. Macferlan in year 1760) A liability of this kind is hard to classify as: Partly it resembles liability under the law of tort in as much as it arises independently of any contract. Partly it resembles to contract in as much as it is owed only to one party and not to the “persons generally”.

Thus it can be accounted for either under an implied contract or under natural justice and equity for the prevention of unjust enrichment. But Lord MANSFIELD preferred the latter theory that the bases for quasi contracts are for the purpose of prevention of unjust enrichment.


The gist of this kind of action is that the defendant, upon the circumstances of the case, is obliged by the ties of natural justice and equity to refund the money. But apart from this it should be observed that did not use the word equity to denote the jurisdiction of chancery but the synonym for “jus naturale”. Nor, while he based the obligations of quasi contract upon the duty of restoring benefits unjustly obtained, did he assert that in every such case an action would lie. As he declared in Weston v. Downes, ‘I am a great friend to the action for money had and received, and therefore I am not stretching, lest I should endanger it’ thus the principle of unjust benefit explained the cases falling within the scope of quasi contracts: it did not automatically invoke the remedy.

Subject to these qualifications the rationalization of the quasi contract upon the basis of unjust benefit was accepted for over a hundred years. But when, in the course of the nineteenth century, the

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