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Present: Lascelles C.J. and Wood Renton J.
SILVA v.. FERNANDO.
131—D. C. Colombo, 32,516.
Quantum meruit—Quasi contract—Agreement to give share of plumbagofor pumping water from mine—How far persons who were notparties to agreement are bound to pay for services rendered.
B agreed to give A a one-fifteenth share of the plumbago fromB’s pit in consideration of A working certain pumping machinery,which drained, the mines of A and B. C worked B's pit on anagreement with B. In an action by A against C, the District Judgeheld that the defendant was not bound by the agreement betweenA and B.
Held, on appeal, affirming the judgment, that plaintiff was notentitled to succeed even on a quantum meruit or on the basis of animplied contract.
HE facts appear sufficiently from the judgment.
Elliott, for the plaintiff, appellant.
No appearance for the respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
July 5, 1912. LasceLlUss C. J.—
The plaintiff by his plaint averred that by indenture of February15, 1908, made between the plaintiff of the one part and A. H.Fernando and others of the second part, it was agreed that theparties of the second part should give the plaintiff a one-fifteenthshare of the plumbago won from their respective mines in consider-ation of the plaintiff working certain pumping machinery, whichdrained the plumbago mines of the parties of the second part aswell as that of the plaintiff ; that A. H. Fernando carried out theagreement, as well as one Ponniah who worked A. H. Fernando’spit under an arrangement with Fernando; that the defendant subse-quently worked the pit under an’ arrangement' with Ponniah orFernando, but has refused to pay one-fifteenth of the produce ofthe mine to the plaintiff. The plaintiff claims the value of theplumbago which the defendant should have paid on the footingof the agreement. The defence is that the plaint discloses nocause of action. The learned District Judge held that the defendantwas not bound by the agreement, and threw out a suggestion thatthe plaintiff might ‘have recovered on a quantum meruit. In theappeal it is not contended that the learned District Judge’s findingwith regard to the absence of any contract between the plaintiffand the defendant is wrong, but we are asked to allow the plaintiffan opportunity of basing his claim on a quantum meruit.
No authorities were cited to us by the appellant in support ofthe proposition that the plaintiff could recover on this footing. Ifthe principles of the English law were applicable, the plaintiff’sclaim would not be sustainable on this ground. The law is thusstated by Bowen L.J. in Falcke v. The Scottish Imperial InsuranceCo.1: M The general principle is, beyond all question, that workand labour done or money expended by one man to preserve orbenefit the property of another do not, according to English law,create any lien upon the property saved or benefited, nor even, ifstanding alone, create any obligation to repay the expenditure.Liabilities are not to be forced upon people behind theirbacks any more than you can confer a benefit on a man againsthis will.”
It cannot be said that in the present case ■ the defendant byaccepting the benefit of the plaintiff’s pumping operations must botaken to have entered into a fresh contract. As is generally thecase where the work is done on land, the circumstances are suchas to give the defendant no option in the* matter (Sumpterv. Hedges 2).
The advantage which the defendant’s mine received from the* -plaintiff’s pumping came to him whether he-desired it or not;it was the natural consequence of the relative situations of theplaintiff’s and the defendant’s mines, and there is no principle o£:
i 84 Chan. Die. 249.* (1898) 1 Q. B. 673.
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English law which requires a person to contribute to an outlaymerely because he has derived a material benefit from it. TheRuabon Steamship Company v. The London Assurance.1
The Boman-Dutch law on the subject is different. Quite apartfrom contracts and implied contracts, the Boman-Dutch lawacknowledges a class of obligations arising quasi ex contractu fromthe circumstances in which the parties find themelves. The bestknown of these quasi contracts is the negotiorum gestiot i.e.t theadministration of the property or affairs of another during hisabsence without his authority, where the Boman-Dutch law makesprovision for the reimbursement of the expenditure incurred by theunauthorized administrator and defines his rights and liabilities.Another example of a quasi contract is the solutio indebiti, theobligation which arises when payment has been made by mistakeof restoring what has been unduly received.
But I cannot find any authority in the text books in which theprinciple that no one should be enriched at the expense of anotherhas been extended to a case like the present. As far as I canascertain, the application of the principle is limited to certain well-defined cases. In Morice*s English and Roman-Dutch Law theuse of the term quasi contract by the Boman-Dutch jurists is regard*.ed as a mode of explaining certain legal relations which arise inparticular circumstances, such as the administration of a partnership,Apart from contract or the obligation incurred on entering on aninheritance. But there is another objection to the application ofthe principle in the present case. There is no question here of aservice being rendered to a person during his absence or without his.knowledge. The plaintiff and the defendant were both presentand aware of the condition under, which the mines were worked."The question must be whether the plaintiff , in keeping his pumpingmachinery at work, acted with the authority, express or implied, ofthe defendant. There is no room for the doctrine of negotiorumjgestio.
Burge (vol. III., p. 990, 1st ed.) states: “ There is no foundation-for any action on this species of contract, if the party has actedimder the authority or in.the presence or with the knowledge of theperson for whose benefit he acted, because in. either of these caseshis remedy is on his mandate, express or implied.’*
In my opinion the findings that the contract between the plaintiffand Fernando is not binding on the defendant, and the absence ofany evidence from which a fresh contract can be implied, are fatalto the plaintiff’s action.
For the above reasons I think the appeal fails, and must be•dismissed.
"Woob Renton J.—I agree.
i (1900) A. C. 9.
SILVA v. FERNANDO