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No agreement was reached but I have done some work – can I get paid?

11/01/2017 | ACUMEN BUSINESS LAW
In cases where no contract can be found, despite the fact there has been performance by one party, that party may have a restitution remedy under the law on unjust enrichment on the basis of “quantum merit” which simply means “the amount he deserves”.   This is a claim to be paid a reasonable sum in respect of work carried out, the benefit of which has been enjoyed by another party.  Enrichment may consist of the performance of work and services, where the value of the work and services are “freely accepted” by the other party. As the law of restitution is triggered where no contract is to be found, the parties’ intentions are not relevant.  The factors which the court will consider are:

Has the other party been enriched?
Was the enrichment at your expense?
Was the enrichment unjust?; and
Are there any defences available to the other party? 

The key point in consideration here is not your loss but the value of the other party’s gain. The enrichment is generally valued at the time the services are rendered and is usually assessed by a principle known as subjective devaluation. This is where it may be appropriate to reduce the objective market value to reflect the subjective value of the services to the other party.

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