Define Quasi-contracts. Discuss different kinds of quasi-contracts under the Indian Contract Act.
A contract can be enforced only when it has all the essential elements of a valid contract. An obligation arising from a contract is called, a contractual obligation. But there are certain obligations which are imposed by law in the absence of a contract. These obligations are similar to those which are created by contract. Such obligations are called quasi contracts. In fact Quasi Contract is not a contract. It is an obligation which law created in absence of any agreement.
Type of Quasi-Contracts under Indian Contract Act Sections 68 to 72 of the Indian Contract Act deal with quasi contracts. These are discussed below:
Claim for necessaries supplied to a person incapable of contracting or on his account (Section 68): Where necessaries are supplied to a person who is incompetent to contract or to someone whom he is legally bound to support, the supplier is entitled to be reimbursed from the property of such incapable person. In order to make claim under this heading, the following conditions are necessary:
- Articles supplied should be necessaries. The term necessaries includes all such things which are considered necessary in the class of the
society to which the incompetent person belongs and like food, clothing, etc.
- Necessaries should be supplied to incompetent person or his dependents.
- Such incompetent person is not personally liable, only his property is liable to pay the reasonable price for the goods or services supplied or rendered.
Reimbursement of person paying money due by another in payment of which he is interested (Section 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. Under this section, a person making a payment on behalf of someone else to safeguard his own interest can claim it from such other person who was bound to pay.
Obligation of a person enjoying the benefit of a non gratuitous act (Section 70): Where a person lawfully does anything for another person, or delivers anything to him, not intending to do so gratuitously, and such other person enjoys the benefit thereof, the latter is bound to make compensation to the former in respect of, or to restore, the thing so done or delivered. In other words, if a person enjoys benefit of a non gratuitous act he is liable to compensate the ‘other person or restore the thing. Non gratuitous act means an act which is not intended to be done free.
The following conditions must be fulfilled to get compensation under this section:
- The person should lawfully do something for another person or deliver something to him.
- The person should not intend to do so gratuitously.
- The other person should voluntarily accept the act or goods and must have enjoyed the benefit thereof.
Responsibility of finder of goods (Section 71): A person who finds goods belonging to another, and takes them into his custody, is subject to the
same responsibility as a bailee. Thus the act puts the same ‘responsibility on finder of the goods as is the responsibility of a bailee. It is the duty of the finder to take as much care of goods as he will take of his own goods. It is his duty to find the real owner and return the goods to him. He also gets some rights in respect of goods. When the true owner cannot be found, he can sell the goods which are of perishable nature.
The finder can sell the goods in the following cases:
- Where the article is in danger of perishing or
- Where owner cannot, with reasonable diligence, be found out or
- Where the owner refuses to pay lawful charges of the finder or
- Where the lawful charges of the finder in respect of goods found amount to two-third of the value of goods.
Liability of person to whom money is paid or anything delivered by mistake or under coercion (Section 72): A person to whom money has been paid or anything delivered by mistake or under coercion must repay or return it.