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LAW OF QUASI-CONTRACTS
EDWIN H. WOODRUFF
DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF LAW
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
This volume is intended to contain a representative selection of cases upon the large and important group of legal duties embraced in the term quasi-contract, and to afford material for the study and discussion of the principles regulating recovery in that class of cases, as those principles are found implicated with, and working upon, the actual facts of decided cases. For the historical development of the law of quasi-contracts, the student is referred to the masterly History of Assumpsit, by the late Dean Ames, which, by his permission, was printed as an appendix to the first edition of this book, but is omitted in the present edition because it is now accessible not only in Vol. 2 of the Harvard Law Review, where originally published in 1888, but also in Vol. 25 of the Fifth Series of the Law Magazine and Review (1900); in Vol. 3 of Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History (1909); and in Ames's Lectures on Legal History (1913).
The primary division of the work into three parts was determined by the broad classification first given by Professor Ames in his History of Assumpsit, and adopted by Professor Keener in the introductory chapter to his Treatise on Quasi-Contracts. However, by far the greater part of the subject is comprised in Part III, under the general doctrine of “Unjust Enrichment,” and the arrangement employed by the present editor for this part, while not the only feasible grouping, will, it is hoped, be practically satisfactory. As Dr. Johnson says in his essay on Pope: “Of two or more positions depending upon some remote or general principle, there is seldom any cogent reason why one should precede the other"; and so, while the cases in Part III depend upon the very general principle of “Unjust Enrichment,” and while a cogent reason can not always be given why some of these positions should precede others, nevertheless the special correlation of analogous topics has been the guide to the present arrangement. But any classification of the law of quasi-contracts still leaves large liberty of choice in determining the order in which the topics may be taken up for study and discussion.
The notes appended to the case are in many instances apposite quotations from judicial decisions which themselves might well have been selected for publication in full, had not the limitations of space forbidden.