Quantum Meruit is a Latin term literally translated as “as much as deserved.” In a legal context, it is a remedy sought when someone provides goods or services to another in the absence of a written agreement; a situation which happens all too often.
The remedy of Quantum Meruit comes into play to avoid unjust enrichment, which describes a situation in which someone unfairly obtains a benefit to the detriment of someone else. Unjust enrichment occurs in a variety of scenarios. Someone is unjustly enriched when he fails to return something he borrowed from his neighbor, or if he deliberately scams someone out of their money based on a false promise.
Quantum Meruit is most often used as a remedy when one party reasonably believed there was an agreement and carried out her obligations to the benefit of another with the understanding and belief that she would be paid for her services. Courts tend to issue a Quantum Meruit award in cases where the enriched party knew of the other party’s mistaken belief that she would be paid for her services and did nothing to disabuse her of that notion.