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Quasi-Contract

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QUASI-CONTRACT. A quasi-contract — often called a constructive contract — is one founded solely on an obligation of law and not upon the intention or consent of the parties. Such contracts are imposed by law on the theory that they are dictated by reason and justice. Quasi-contracts are usually founded (1) on a record, as a judgment; (2) on a statutory, official or customary duty, as the obligation of a husband to pay for necessaries supplied his wife; (3) on the doctrine that no one should be allowed to enrich himself un justly at another's expense, as the liability to repay money paid by mistake of fact. A marked distinction between a quasi-contract and a true contract is that the latter is founded upon the consent of the parties thereto, whereas the for mer is founded on a legal obligation without asty consent of the parties. As has been aptly said in the case of consensual contracts the agreement defines the duty, while in the case of quasi-contracts the duty defines the con tract. Much real difficulty has been experienced in distinguishing between quasi-contracts and implied contracts, and some authorities hold that the distinction appears to be one of degree rather than of principle. There is authority for the statement that implied contracts embrace those in which there is an intent to contract or at any rate no intent not to contract. But in many cases of what are commonly called im plied contracts the only intent apparent is in the imputation of knowledge that the law would impose a certain liability. This element is also i present in many quasi-contracts. The test of definite intention not to contract, if applied to quasi-contracts, would exclude some from this classification, for example, an obligation to re pay money paid by mistake of fact. Some au thorities differentiate a quasi-contract from an implied contract by holding that the former is a mere legal fiction, a form imposed to adapt the case to a certain remedy, in which inten tion is disregarded, whereas in an implied con tract the intent is ascertained and enforced and according to the common understanding of men the intention to contract is mutual. Quasi

contracts are enforced by an action ex con tract*.

By some earlier authorities the term *im plied contracts,* is made to include (1) con tracts implied in fact and (2) quasi or con structive contracts. In the former the inten tion to contract may be inferred to exist by the acts of the parties, while in the latter there is an absence of all intent to contract. This classification is favored by some authorities to day.

Among typical cases of quasi or construc tive contracts, in addition to those mentioned above, are the following: cases of account stated, from which an obligation in law arises which will cause an action of assumpsit or debt to lie; cases in which one person has been obliged to pay money which another should have paid and which the former may re cover from the latter in an action in assump sit for money paid to his use; cases in which one person has received money which another should have received, for which an action will lie for money had and received; cases in which a person by wrongfully taking and retaining property is obligated by law to pay a reason able price therefor; cases in which it is im possible for the plaintiff to complete a contract and in which he may recover for the value of what he has already performed; cases in which a defendant is in default under a contract which cannot be enforced because not in compliance with the Statute of Frauds and the plaintiff may recover for past performance; cases in which a person is under a legal obligation to pay money and another pays it without request for him, m which event the money may be recovered by an action at law. See CONTRACT.