Unjust Enrichment and Quantum Meruit – Not the Same ...

Jul 11, 2019
Virginia Lawyer


Welcome to Richardson Law Firm PC, your trusted resource for legal matters in the field of law and government. In this article, we will delve into the differences between unjust enrichment and quantum meruit, two important concepts that often intertwine in legal practice.

Understanding Unjust Enrichment

Unjust enrichment refers to a legal principle that aims to prevent one party from profiting at the expense of another, without a valid legal reason. It occurs when someone unfairly benefits from someone else's actions or resources, resulting in an imbalance or injustice.

For example, let's say a contractor completes renovation work on a property but the owner fails to pay for the services rendered. In this case, the contractor has been unjustly enriched, as they have provided valuable services without receiving proper compensation. Unjust enrichment claims seek to restore the balance and prevent individuals from benefitting unfairly.

Exploring Quantum Meruit

Quantum meruit, on the other hand, is a Latin term that translates to "as much as he has deserved." It is a legal doctrine utilized when there is an expectation of payment for goods or services, but no specific contract or agreement exists. Quantum meruit allows for a reasonable payment to be made based on the value of the services or goods provided.

This concept often arises when parties have some form of implied contract or when there is an absence of a written agreement. For instance, if a homeowner asks a plumber to fix a leaking pipe and the plumber successfully completes the task, but there was no discussion regarding payment, the plumber can make a quantum meruit claim to seek compensation for their services.

Differences Between Unjust Enrichment and Quantum Meruit

Although unjust enrichment and quantum meruit share similarities, it is important to distinguish between the two:

Legal Basis

Unjust enrichment is grounded in the principle of equity and fairness, aiming to correct imbalances and prevent unjust gains. On the other hand, quantum meruit is based on an implied contract or a lack of a written agreement, seeking compensation for the value of services rendered.

Proof Requirements

When pursuing an unjust enrichment claim, the claimant must prove three essential elements: the defendant received a benefit, the claimant suffered a corresponding detriment, and it would be unjust for the defendant to retain the benefit without compensating the claimant.

Conversely, in a quantum meruit claim, the claimant needs to establish that they provided goods or services, the defendant accepted and benefited from those goods or services, and payment for the provided goods or services is reasonable.


In unjust enrichment cases, the court may order restitution, where the defendant must return the value of the unjustly obtained benefit to the claimant. In quantum meruit cases, the claimant may be entitled to receive a reasonable payment for the goods or services rendered.

Consult Richardson Law Firm PC for Expert Legal Advice

The nuances between unjust enrichment and quantum meruit can be complex, and seeking professional legal guidance is crucial. At Richardson Law Firm PC, our experienced attorneys are well-versed in these areas of law and can provide expert advice tailored to your situation.

As a leading law firm specializing in law and government matters, we understand the intricacies and potential legal implications involved in these cases. Our dedicated team of lawyers is committed to providing comprehensive legal services and ensuring that your rights are protected.

Contact Richardson Law Firm PC today to schedule a consultation and let us help you navigate through the intricacies of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and other legal matters. Trust us to be your reliable legal partner!