Certain relations between the parties resemble those created by contract. Law requires a person who receives the benefit to pay or compensate the person giving the benefit, even though he receives the benefit without any contract. There is no contract in fact but is created by law. Such a contract created or constituted by law is called “Quasi Contract”.
In Quasi Contracts, obligation between the parties is not contractual but one which is treated as contractual by law. These obligations are therefore, implied by law. Quasi contracts are called ‘implied’ contracts also. These are implied because they are ‘such obligations’ which resemble those created by contracts. The essentials for formation of a contract are absent but as the results resemble those of a contract, they are called ‘Quasi Contracts’. They are called ‘Construction Contracts’ under English law. Indian law terms Quasi Contracts as “Certain relations resembling those created by contract.”
Law, in such cases, places the parties in the same position as they would have been if there was a contract in fact, between them. Second part of section 73 of the Act gives the right to the injured party in the following words:
“When an obligation resembling those created by contract has been incurred and has not been discharged, any person injured by the failure to discharge it, is entitled to receive the same compensation from the party in default, as if such person had contracted to discharge it and had broken his contract”.
It will thus be observed that Quasi Contracts cannot strictly be called contracts but they create certain obligations and are therefore, treated as contracts by law. The aggrieved party is placed in the same position as if the actual contract exists, on the footing that such obligations must be fairly compensated.
Types of Quasi Contracts
Sections 68 to 72 of the Act lay down the law regarding such obligations:
1. Claim for supply of necessaries to person incapable of contracting: (Sec.68). If a person incapable of entering into a contract or any one who is legally bound to support, is supplied by another person with necessaries suited to his condition in life, the person who has furnished such supplies is entitled to be reimbursed from the property of such incapable person.
(a) A supplies B, a lunatic, with necessaries suitable to his condition in life. A is entitled to be reimbursed from B’s property. (b) A supplies the wife and children of B, a lunatic, with necessaries suitable to their condition in life. A is entitled to be reimbursed from B’s property.
Necessaries must be supplied to a person incapable of contracting or on his account, like a minor, lunatic, wife or daughter of a lunatic, or a minor, and others disqualified from contracting by law to which they are subject. A married woman has a right to be legally supported by her husband. If necessaries are supplied to her by any person, such a person has a right to be reimbursed.
Necessaries are as such is a mixed question of fact and law in each case. Things suited to the conditions of incompetent parties, can be classified as ‘necessaries’. Necessaries include articles required to maintain a particular person in the state and degree in the life in which he is. Things necessary are those without which an individual cannot reasonably exist. Loan to a minor to save his property from sale in execution of a decree is a ‘necessity’. Debt incurred for performing funeral obligations of the father of a minor is a ‘necessity’.
Even money advanced for purchase of necessaries can be claimed. The price paid for supply of such necessaries should be reasonable. The incapable person is not personally liable. Only his property is liable for necessaries. The liability is quasi contractual in nature, as he is incapable of giving his consent.
2. Reimbursement of money paid, in which he is interested: (Sec.69): A person who is interested in the payment of money which another is bound by law to pay, and who therefore pays it, is entitled to be reimbursed by the other.
B holds land in Bengal, on a lease granted by A, the Zamindar. The revenue payable by A to the Government being in arrears, his land is advertised for sale by the Government. Under the revenue law, the consequences of such sale will be the annulment of B’s lease. B to prevent the sale and the consequent annulment of his own lease pays to the government the sum due from A. A is bound to make good to B the amount so paid.
3. Obligation of person to pay for enjoying benefit of non-gratuitous act: (Sec.70): Where a person lawfully does anything to another person, or delivers anything to him not intending to do so gratuitously and such other person enjoys the benefit there of, the latter is bound to make compensation to the former in respect of or to restore the thing so done or delivered.
(a) A, a tradesman, leaves goods at B’s house by mistake. B treats the goods as his own. He is bound to pay A for them.
4. Responsibility of finder of goods: (Sec.71): A person who finds goods belonging to another and takes them into his custody, is subject to the same responsibility as a bailee.
5. Liability of a person to whom money is paid or thing delivered by mistake or under coercion: (Sec. 72): A person to whom money has been paid, or anything delivered by mistake or under coercion, must repay or return it.
A and B jointly owe Rs. 100 to C. A alone pays the amount to C, and B not knowing this fact, pays Rs.100 over again to C. C is bound to repay the amount to B.