Benedetti v Sawiris and Others: SC 17 Jul 2013

The claimant appealed against reduction of the sum awarded on his claim for a quantum meruit after helping to facilitate a very substantial business deal for the defendants.
Held: The correct approach to the amount to be paid by way of a quantum meruit where there is no valid and subsisting contract between the parties, is to ask whether the defendant has been unjustly enriched and, if so, to what extent. In a contractual claim however, the focus would in principle be on the intentions of the parties. The Court emphasised the objective nature of a quantum meruit assessment in a claim based on restitution, but were careful to treat as calling for separate consideration the related and perhaps mis-named quantum meruit process, where engaged for the purpose of working out the amount payable under a contract with no expressly agreed price or price formula.
Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony said: ‘It is common ground that the correct approach to the amount to be paid by way of a quantum meruit where there is no valid and subsisting contract between the parties is to ask whether the defendant has been unjustly enriched and, if so, to what extent. The position is different if there is a contract between the parties. Thus, if A consults, say, a private doctor or a lawyer for advice there will ordinarily be a contract between them. Often the amount of his or her remuneration is not spelled out. In those circumstances, assuming there is a contract at all, the law will normally imply a term into the agreement that the remuneration will be reasonable in all the circumstances. A claim for such remuneration has sometimes been referred to as a claim for a quantum meruit. In such a case, while it is no doubt relevant to have regard to the benefit to the defendant, the focus is not on the benefit to the defendant in the way in which it is where there is no such contract. In the contractual claim the focus would in principle be on the intentions of the parties (objectively ascertained).’

Lord Neuberger P, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed
149 Con LR 1, [2013] 2 All ER (Comm) 801, [2013] 4 All ER 253, [2013] WLR(D) 286, [2013] UKSC 50, [2013] 3 WLR 351, UKSC 2011/0087
Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary, SC summary, SC
England and Wales
At first instanceBenedetti and Another v Sawiris and Others ChD 15-Jun-2009
The claimant sought payment for his services to the defendants for his work in facilitating a substantial buy out of an Italian energy company.
Held: The claim succeeded on a quantum meruit basis to the extent of 75m euros but not otherwise. . .
First instance consequential judgmentBenedetti and Another v Sawiris and Others ChD 21-Jul-2009
Orders consequential on the main judgement to apportion liability as between the various defendants. . .
Appeal fromBenedetti v Sawiris and Others CA 16-Dec-2010
The claimant had claimed a reward for his role in securing a very substantial business deal for the defendants. The judge had rejected claims in contract but had awarded a sum of 67m Euros on a quantum meruit basis. He appealed saying that the award . .
CitedPallant v Morgan ChD 1952
The agents of two neighbouring landowners orally agreed in the auction room that the plaintiff’s agent would refrain from bidding at auction and that the defendant, if his agent’s bid was successful, would divide the land according to an agreed . .
CitedBanque Financiere De La Cite v Parc (Battersea) Ltd and Others HL 16-Apr-1998
The making of an order for restitution after finding an unjust enrichment by subrogation, is not dependant upon having found any common or unilateral intention of the parties. The House distinguished between contractual subrogation of the kind most . .
CitedInvestment Trust Companies v HM Revenue and Customs ChD 2-Mar-2012
The claimant had properly accounted for VAT on its transactions for many years, but a decision of the European court had latterly ruled that the services were exempt. The claimant sought restitution from HMRC, who responded by arguing that . .
CitedBP Exploration Co (Libya) Ltd v Hunt (No 2) 1979
The contract between the parties relating to an oil concession in Libya had been frustrated by the nationalisation of the field.
Held: The court considered the setting of damages where the plaintiff had delayed in notifying the defendant of . .
CitedBoake Allen Ltd and others v HM Revenue and Customs CA 31-Jan-2006
The claimant companies had paid corporation tax under rules which had later been found to be discriminatory. They now sought repayment by virtue of double taxation agreements with the countries in which the parent companies were based.
Held: . .
CitedYeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe HL 30-Jul-2008
The parties agreed in principle for the sale of land with potential development value. Considerable sums were spent, and permission achieved, but the owner then sought to renegotiate the deal.
Held: The appeal succeeded in part. The finding . .
CitedR McDonald v Coys of Kensington Ltd CA 5-Feb-2004
The claimants were car auctioneers. They had been instructed to sell a car, but to withhold the cherished number plate. By mistake it was transferred with the car. Before the plate could be returned, the defendant had transferred it to his partner. . .
CitedSempra Metals Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners and Another HL 18-Jul-2007
The parties agreed that damages were payable in an action for restitution, but the sum depended upon to a calculation of interest. They disputed whether such interest should be calculated on a simple or compound basis. The company sought compound . .

Cited by:
CitedLittlewoods Retail Ltd and Others v HM Revenue and Customs (No 2) ChD 28-Mar-2014
The claimants had recovered very substantial overpayments made of VAT. They sought recovery of compound interest. The ECJ, on reference, said that this was a matter for national law.
Held: The claim succeeded. The sections of the 1994 Act were . .
CitedHarrison v Madejski and Another CA 28-Mar-2014
. .
CitedTallington Lakes Ltd and Others v Larking Gowen CA 9-Jul-2014
The defendant appealed rejection of its defence that a contract with the claimant, its accountant, was on a fixed fee contract. . .
CitedBank of Cyprus UK Ltd v Menelaou SC 4-Nov-2015
The bank customers, now appellants, redeemed a mortgage over their property, and the property was transferred to family members, who in turn borrowed from the same lender. A bank employee simply changed the name on the mortgage. This was ineffective . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Equity

Updated: 15 November 2021; Ref: scu.512424