Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

As much as is deserved.




The maxim implicates to the doctrine that permits recovery by a party for services provided, despite the absence of an express contract but were accepted and used by the defendant under circumstances, which gave reasonable notice that the plaintiff expected to be paid for them. The maxim in contract law indicates an agreement or promises to pay a fair sum for labor and goods, even when the monetary amount expected for the work performed is unclear.

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. In simple terms, when an individual provides services to another, who has either requested those services or freely accepted them, knowing they are not performed free of charge, a contract is seen to exist. In a case where the person receiving services refuses to pay, the service provider may file a civil lawsuit seeking payment.


After many residents found their house flooded, and various electronic systems inoperable, after a hurricane A, a contractor, offered his services to get people’s furnaces going again. ‘B’ gratefully accepts A’s services, for which he had tentatively quoted a price of Rs 2000. A left after rendering his services to B, without even taking money. Later, A’s bill arrived in B’s mailbox, she didn’t think it was fair to have to pay nearly Rs 5000 when A’s fix was temporary. A files a lawsuit requesting payment for the services he performed.

At the trial, A tells the judge that he was offering his services as a contractor in the wake of the hurricane. B agrees that he had quoted her a tentative price, which proves she did not expect to receive those services free of charge. The judge rules in A’s favor, ordering B to pay for the services she received.

Case Laws

In Alopi Parshad & Sons, Ltd vs The Union of India, the Supreme Court of India held that “Compensation quantum meruit is awarded for work done or services rendered, when the price thereof is not fixed by a contract. For work done or services rendered pursuant to the terms of a contract, compensation quantum meruit cannot be awarded where the contract provides for the consideration payable in that behalf Quantum meruit is but reasonable compensation awarded on the implication of a contract to remunerate, and an express stipulation governing the relations between the parties under a contract, cannot be displaced by assuming that the stipulation is not reasonable.

In Patel Engineering Co. Ltd. vs Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., the Patna High Court has held that “It is true that a quantum meruit is a quasi-contract and arises, in a sense, on an implied contract and not on any express agreement, but in my view, in the circumstances of this case (although it may not be in all cases) the quantum meruit is an incident which arises out of the contract. It is not a remedy for breach nor does it arise on frustration but it is an incident, which does arise as a consequence of the contract or arising out of it. It is only necessary to look at the points of claim and to visualize what will be involved in the arbitration to see the close association between the written contract and the claim advanced in this way on a quantum meruit.”

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