William Lacey (Hounslow) Ltd v Davis: 1957

The builder tendered for work, apparently not on the basis that the tender might or might not be accepted but so that the owner could use the tender for what was described as ‘some extraneous or collateral purpose’, for negotiating a claim for compensation for war damage.
Held: The builder had done work at the request and for the benefit for the owner. That work was outside the ambit of the contract which they thought might be made. The builder had not charged for that work only because it thought that it would be recompensed when it got the contract. The accepted juridical basis of a work and labour done claim is the existence of an obligation implied by or arising at law to pay reasonable remuneration for work done which is freely accepted: ‘In its early history (quantum meruit) was no doubt, a genuine action in contract, based on a real promise to pay, although that promise had not been expressed in words and the amount of the payment had not been agreed. Subsequent developments have however, considerably widened the scope of this form of action and in many cases the action is now founded on what is known as ‘quasi-contract’, similar in some ways to the action for money had and received. In these quasi-contractual cases the court will look at the true facts and ascertain from them whether or not a promise to pay should be implied irrespective of the actual views or intentions of the parties at the time when the work was done or the services rendered’.


Barry J


[1957] 1 WLR 932, [1957] 2 All ER 712


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedCountrywide Communications Limited v ICL Pathway Ltd 1996
The court considered the authorities bearing on the question of whether or not a claim under a quantum meruit can successfully be made for work done in anticipation of a contract which does not materialise. Strauss J concluded: ‘I have found it . .
MentionedMSM Consulting Ltd v United Republic of Tanzania QBD 30-Jan-2009
The claimants sought commission or a quantum meruit for the part they had taken in finding a suitable site for the defendant’s High Commission in London.
Held: The works undertaken were consistent with the claimant seeking work from the . .
CitedD and K Drost Consult Gmbh and Another v Foremost Leisure (Holdings) Ltd CA 12-Feb-2015
The parties had embarked on works despite having failed to take negotiations to a conclused contract. The claimant sought payment under a quantum meruit for services provided. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Equity

Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.280269