Pavey & Matthews Pty Ltd v Paul [1987] HCA 5

ON 4 MARCH 1987, the High Court of Australia delivered Pavey & Matthews Pty Ltd v Paul [1987] HCA 5; (1987) 162 CLR 221 (4 March 1987).

A builder was entitled to recover remuneration for building work done despite there being no written enforceable contract because the client had accepted the benefit and therefore was obliged under the doctrine of unjust enrichment or restitution to pay fair and just compensation for the benefit accrued.

Section 45 of the Builders Licensing Act 1971 (NSW) (which provided that a building contract is not enforceable unless in writing and signed) did not prevent a builder from bringing an action in quantum merit (“as much as he has earned”) for the work done and materials supplied.

A claim based upon quantum merit does not require there to be an implied contract. A claim in quantum meruit is based upon restitution or unjust enrichment.

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