A term used in the civil law. A quasi-contract is the act of a person, permitted by law, by which he obligates himself towards another, or by which another binds himself to him, without any agreement between them.
By the Civil Code of Louisiana, quasi-contracts are defined to be "the lawful and purely voluntary acts of a man, from which there results any obligation whatever to a third person, and sometime a reciprocal obligation between the parties." In contracts, it is the consent of the contracting parties which produces the obligation; in quasi-contracts no consent is required, and the obligation arises from the law or natural equity, on the facts of the case. These acts are called quasi-contracts, because, without being contracts, they bind the parties as contracts do.
Quasi-contracts may be multiplied almost to infinity. They are, however, divided into five classes: such "relate to the voluntary and spontaneous management of the affairs of another, without authority; the administration of tutorship; the management of common property; the acquisition of an inheritance; and the payment of a sum of money or other thing by mistake, when nothing was due.
- 1. Negotiorum gestio. When a man undertakes of his own accord to manage the affairs of another, the person assuming the agency contracts the tacit engagement to continue it, an& complete it, until the owner shall be in a condition to attend to it himself. The obligation of such a person is, 1st. To act for the benefit of the absentee. 2d. He is commonly answerable for the slightest neglect. 3d. He is bound to render an account of his management. Equity obliges the proprietor, whose business has been well managed, 1st. To comply with the engagements contracted by the manager in his name. 2d. To indemnify the manager in all the engagements he has contracted. 3d. To reimburse him all useful and necessary expenses.- 2. Tutorship or guardianship, is the second kind of quasi-contracts, there being no agreement between the tutor and minor.
- 3. When a person has the management of a common property owned by himself and others, not as partners, he is bound to account for the profits, and is entitled to be reimbursed for the expenses which he has sustained by virtue of the quasi-contract which is created by his act, called communio bonorum.
- 4. The fourth class is the aditio herreditatis, by which the heir is bound to pay the legatees, who cannot be said to have any contract with him or with the deceased.
- 5. Indebiti solutio, or the payment to one of what is not due to him, if made through any mistake in fact, or even in law, entitles him who made the payment to an action against the receiver for repayment, condictio indebiti. This action does not lie, 1. If the sum paid was due ex equitate, or by a natural obligation. 2. If he who made the payment; knew that nothing was due, for qui consulto dat quod non, debebat, proesumitur donare.
Each of these quasi-contracts has an affinity with some contract; thus the management of the affairs of another without authority, and tutorship, are compared to a mandate; the community of property, to a partnership; the acquisition of an inheritance, to a stipulation; and the payment of a thing which is not due, to a loan.
All persons, even infants and persons destitute of reason, who are consequently incapable of consent may be obliged by the quasi-contract, which results from the act of another, and may also oblige others in their favor; for it is not consent which forms these obligations; they are contracted by the act of another, without any act on our part. The use of reason is indeed required in the person whose act forms the quasi-contract, but it is not re-quired in the person by whom or in whose favor the obligations which result from it are contracted. For instance, if a person undertakes the business of an infant or a lunatic; this is a quasi-contract, which obliges the infant or the lunatic to the person undertaking his affairs, for what he has beneficially expended, and reciprocally obliges the person to give an account of his administration or management.
There is no term in the common law which answers to that of quasi-contract; many quasi-contracts may doubtless be classed among implied contracts; there is, however, a difference between them, which an example will make manifest. In case money should be paid by mistake to a minor, it may be recovered from him by the civil law, because his consent is not necessary to a quasi-contract but by the common law, if it can be recovered, it must be upon an agreement to which the law presumes he has consented, and it is doubtful, upon principle, whether such recovery could be had.