The Supreme Court judgment in Benedetti v Sawaris and others ( UKSC 50) clarified the basis on which a court should evaluate the remuneration (or quantum meruit) for the value of a person's services based on the unjust enrichment of the person receiving the services.
The principle of unjust enrichment is that no person should be permitted to receive a benefit at another's detriment without paying for the reasonable value of that benefit. The court asks itself four questions when faced with a claim for unjust enrichment:
- "has the defendant been enriched?
- was the enrichment at the claimant’s expense?
- was the enrichment unjust?
- are there any defences available to the defendant?"1.
If the answer to each of the first three questions is 'yes', and there are no defences available to the defendant the court may make a restitutionary award.
The issue that the court had to consider in this appeal was the valuation of the restitutionary award, that is to say on what basis a claim for payment of services should be calculated.