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The Nuances of Express, Implied, and Quasi Contracts: Unraveling Legal Complexity


Contracts form the backbone of legal relationships, and their complexities often involve a delicate interplay between express and implied agreements. The legal landscape recognizes express and implied contracts, as well as the intriguing concept of quasi contracts, each serving a unique purpose in the realm of justice and fairness.

Express and Implied Contracts

Express contracts arise when parties articulate their agreement through words, creating a clear and unequivocal understanding of their intentions. On the other hand, implied contracts manifest through conduct, where actions speak louder than words. Consider a scenario where a homeowner calls a plumber to fix a broken pipe; although compensation is not explicitly discussed, an implied contract suggests an obligation to pay for services rendered.

Quasi Contracts: A Legal Quirk Explained

In the legal realm, quasi contracts add a layer of complexity. They are not true contracts but obligations imposed by law to ensure justice, even in the absence of a formal promise. For instance, if a physician provides necessary medical care to a neglected child, the law allows the physician to recover the value of services from the parents, framed as a quasi contract. This label arose from a procedural quirk, as there was no specific writ for such obligations, leading to the use of contractual mechanisms.

Preventing Unjust Enrichment

The primary function of quasi contracts is often cited as the prevention of unjust enrichment. This occurs when one party benefits unfairly at the expense of another. Quasi-contractual remedies are commonly applied in contractual contexts, especially when agreements fail due to reasons like indefiniteness, unauthorized representation, different understandings, illegality, incapacity, mistake, fraud, duress, non-conformity, impossibility, or frustration.

Navigating the Interplay of Contract and Quasi Contract

In scenarios where agreements fail or are avoided, quasi contract, now termed "restitution," becomes the focal point for determining the reallocation of gains and losses. The legal intricacies involve considerations such as unjust enrichment, unjust impoverishment, relative fault, risk allocation, and fairness in alternative risk allocations.


Understanding the nuances of express, implied, and quasi contracts is vital in navigating the complex terrain of legal relationships. Express contracts provide clarity through explicit agreements, while implied contracts arise from conduct. Quasi contracts, despite their misleading name, serve the purpose of enforcing obligations when justice demands it. As legal systems evolve, the interplay between these contract types continues to shape the principles of fairness, ensuring that parties are held accountable for their actions and unjust enrichment is prevented.

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