This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Reasons of public policy make the case of the public officer an exception to the general rule that a request for the rendition of services implies a promise to pay therefor. If the law fixes a specified compensation for certain services to be rendered by a public officer, he cannot recover extra compensation for such services even if they are reasonably worth it.1 So after having performed the services he has no right of action for additional compensation on the ground that the compensation was less than the services were worth.2 If the law makes no provision for compensation for any or all of the official duties of a public officer he can make no charge therefor. 3 If he is not willing to perform such work for nothing, he should resign. If he collects compensation from the municipality for which he acts, which is not authorized by law, he may be compelled to refund.4 Thus a statute authorized the appointment of a commissioner to revise the statutes, but made no provision for his compensation-He has no right of action for the reasonable value of his services.5 However, it has been held that an attorney is not a pub--lie officer in this sense. Hence if the statute authorizes the county to employ an attorney in disbarment proceedings and does not provide for compensation, he may nevertheless recover a reasonable compensation.6
10Hartnett v. Christopher, 61 Mo. App, 64.
1 Brown v. United States, 9 How. (U. S.) 487; Kreitz v. Behrensmey-er, 149 111. 496; 24 L. B. A. 59; 36 N. E. 983; Moore v. Independent District, 55 la. 654; 8 N. W. 631; Bogers v. Simmons, 155 Mass. 259; 29 N. E. 580; O'shea v. Kavanaugh, 65 Neb. 639; 91 N. W. 578; State v. Meserve. 58 Neb. 451; 78 N. W. 721; Clark v. Lucas County, 58 O. S. 107; 50 N. E. 356.
2Mullett v. United States. 150 U. S. 566; Irwin v. Yuba County,
119 Cal. 686; 52 Pac. 35; Ex parte Harrison, 112 Ind. 329; 14 N. E. 225; Hamil v. Carroll County, 106 la. 523; 69 N. W. 1122; 71 N. W. 425; Gardner v. Newaygo County, 110 Mich. 94; 67 N. W. 1091.
3Torbert v. Hale County, 131 Ala. 143; 30 So. 453; Marshall County v. Johnson, 127 Ind. 238; 26 N. E. 821; Tippecanoe County v. Barnes, 123 Ind. 403; 24 N. E. 137; Twinam v. Lucas County, 104 la. 231; 73 N. W. 473; State v. Brown, 146 Mo. 401; 47 S. W. 504; Crocker v. Brown County, 35 Wis. 284.