Quantum Meruit Law and Legal Definition

Quantum meruit is a Latin term meaning "as much as he deserved," the actual value of services performed. A payment for work completed under the terms of a breached contract, or when no contract exists or there is doubt as to the amount due for the work performed but done under circumstances when payment could be expected. If a person sues for payment for services in such circumstances the judge or jury will calculate the amount due based on time and usual rate of pay or the customary charge, based on quantum meruit by implying a contract existed.

Some courts allow an attorney who withdraws for justifiable reason or is terminated by a client without cause to compensation for the services rendered based on the theory of quantum meruit. Where the discharge is for cause, the attorney has no right to compensation. Where the discharge is without cause before the completion of services, the attorney is limited to recovering the reasonable value of its services in quantum meruit.

There are three main situations where entitlement to payment on a quantum meruit basis is most likely to arise:

  • Where the parties to a contract fail to agree a price.
  • Where no contract comes into existence.
  • When a contract is brought to a premature end by a repudiatory breach.