May an architect who draws up plans at the request of someone considering a land purchase recover the reasonable value of the services, if there is no written contract.  That was the issue before the Court in Israel Design Group v. Chabad of the Shore, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No.  A-6008-11T3 (July 9, 2013).

In that case, the plaintiff was an architectural firm which developed plans for a synagogue.  The synagogue had requested the plans because it was considering purchasing property for expansion.  There was no contract; nevertheless, the parties did not dispute that the plaintiff had provided the plans.

The Court determined that, even though there was no written contract, the plaintiff would be permitted to recover under the doctrine of quasi-contract. “Quasi-contractual liability ‘rests on the equitable principle that a person should not be able to enrich himself unjustly at the expense of another.’” Wichert Co. Realtors v. Ryan, 128 N.J. 427, 437 (1992).

While this common law theory is not something that serves as a substitute for a contract, it is a useful tool for those asserting a damage claim in the absence of a written agreement.

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