QUASI-CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872

INTRODUCTION:

Is a contract possible without offer, acceptance or consideration? If we look at today’s world, yes there can be such a contract totally based on our social responsibility. Say, for example, one keeps a parcel at our doorstep, isn’t it our social responsibility and obligation to return that to the true owner. In this scenario, a quasi-contractual obligation comes into play.

WHAT ARE QUASI-CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS?

It is first important to note that a contract before it becomes so, is an agreement. Therefore, where there is no agreement, there is no contract. Yet, there are some obligations that do not have their origin in an agreement. The obligation not to harm another person or his property (Torts), for instance, the judgments or orders of courts, quasi-contractual obligations, etc. These obligations are not ‘contracts’ by definition, but they are enforceable in a court of law.

A contract is a legally enforceable agreement in oral or written form between two or more parties. In simple terms, it is a set of promises where one party promises to do something for the other for some benefit or consideration. There are many types of contracts; one of them is a quasi-contract.

Quasi Contracts, not actual contracts because they lack one or the other essential elements of a contract, but are still enforceable in Court.  They come into picture when a person is required to perform an obligation despite the fact that they have not infringed any contract or broken a contractual clause or committed a tort. For instance, if some good is left at our doorstep by mistake, we have an obligation to keep it in good condition and return it to the true owner. Such obligations form quasi-contracts.

The obligations arising from a quasi-contract are called quasi-contractual obligations. It is created by law for the sake of equity and justice. It is specifically imposed by law on parties because one of the parties is unjustly enriched. It is a remedy that allows the party to recover the benefits which were conferred by the other party. Quasi-contracts are based on the principle of “Nemo debet locupletari ex aliena jactura”, which means ‘No man should grow rich out of another person’s loss’. Therefore, liability in the case of quasi-contractual obligations is based on the principle of ‘unjust enrichment’. It essentially means that no man should get unjustly enriched at the cost of another person’s loss. That means no person should gain anything unjustly, when his gaining such a thing may mean a loss for another person.

FEATURES OF QUASI CONTRACTS:

  1. Their origin does not lie in the offer and its acceptance, that is, an agreement between the parties.
  2. They are rather based on justice, equity and good conscience and on the principles of natural justice.

QUASI-CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872:

The Indian Contract Act, 1872, under section 68 to sec. 72 provides 5 kinds of quasi-contractual obligations:

  1. Supply of necessities [s.68]
  2. Payment by interested persons [s.69]
  3. Liability to pay for non-gratuitous acts [s.70]
  4. Finder of goods [s.71]
  5. The mistake of coercion [s.72]

CONCLUSION:

Generally, a contract consists of an offer and acceptance, which eventually gives rise to an agreement.  The agreement is legally enforceable becomes a contract. Yet, there are cases wherein the absence of an agreement the other party is obliged to perform their duty or obligation. Such obligations are called quasi-contractual obligations. The whole principle of quasi-contract is an important part of Contracts law and is very often overlooked but still, it definitely aids the victim who is unjustly enriched, as the whole basis of quasi-contract is not based on the intricacies of the contract but rather receiving justice.

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