Unfortunately, contracts are too often breached and result in a dispute which may be a:
- General material breach of contract. When someone refuses to honor any terms of a contract, raising the question of whether it should have even been signed.
- Tortious interference. When an outside party attempts to damage the contractual agreement between the signing parties.
Regardless of the type of contract or reason of dispute, when a breach in the terms of the agreement has occurred, a resolution and compensation may be pursued.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS
OF A BREACH OF CONTRACT?
In a breach of contract action, the plaintiff must prove that a contract existed, that the other party breached a duty required by the contract, and that the breach of duty resulted in damages.
Compensation for a breach of contract may include:
- Compensatory damages are actual damages
- Special damages include your costs to rectify the situation caused by the breach
- Punitive damages punish the wrongdoers to make them an example
DEFENSES FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT
Defenses for breach of contract are “affirmative,” meaning the wrongdoers must prove their defense. They don’t dispute that they didn’t honor a contract, only that circumstances rendered terms of the contract moot.
Common defenses include:
- It was an oral contract that should have been in writing.
- It was indefinite because it was never finalized.
- There was a mistake in the contract.
- The defendant didn’t have the legal capacity to sign the contract.
- The defendant was fraudulently induced into entering into the agreement.
- The contract is grossly unfair to one or both parties.
- One party excused a term of the agreement and the other party relied on their word.
- It is illegal because something bargained for in the contract is illegal.
CONTRACT DISPUTE RESOLUTION OPTIONS
While a contract dispute can be presented in a civil court, other options for resolution include:
- Negotiation between the parties.
- Mediation, using a neutral party to help reach an agreement.
- Settlement conference in which the mediator offers an opinion.
- Arbitration, requiring both sides to present their cases to an impartial arbiter and agree to abide by the arbiter’s decision.
- Med-ARB, a combination of mediation and arbitration, used to expedite the settlement of disputes.
- Early neutral evaluation, involving a person appointed by the court or agreed to by the parties to sort through the evidence of a case and eliminate issues not worth pursuing.
- Mini-trial, where both sides present their cases to determine strengths and weaknesses which facilitates negotiating a settlement.
- Summary jury trial, allowing both sides to present their cases to a jury which renders a decision, providing insight for a negotiated settlement.
WHY HIRING A CONTRACT DISPUTE ATTORNEY IS IMPORTANT
Even when entered into with the best intentions, contracts aren’t always written clearly, fairly, or even legally. This makes breach of contract cases complicated. Whatever method you choose to try to obtain compensation for your damages, consulting with an experienced business attorney is crucial to navigate key decisions and protect your best interests.
Using our experience, we’ll assess your case and help you fight for justice and fair compensation. We have the experience and resources necessary to guide you through the process.