In theory, every contract is signed in good faith, with neither party planning on breaking its terms. Unfortunately, however, not every agreement is fulfilled, and if you are left with unfulfilled work or a broken promise, you may be eligible to pursue legal action to provide you with relief. In order to establish that a breach of contract has occurred, you need to establish four specific elements. They are:
- That a contract existed
- That you have performed your obligations within the contract
- That the other party has failed to perform their obligations within the contract
- That you have suffered damages as a result of the other party’s non-performance
There are several important things to keep in mind before pursuing legal action.
The first thing that you need to know is that a contract can exist whether the agreement between parties was contained in a formal, written document or an oral agreement. Either can be an enforceable contract as long as there was both an offer made, acceptance of the offer, and consideration provided for that acceptance. Both sides must be able to show that something of value was provided, even if it is nothing more than a signature.
In order to prove a breach you must be able to show that you held up your end of the agreement. If both parties to an agreement can point to nonperformance, then there can be no breach – unless one side’s nonperformance is significantly more damaging than the other’s.
In order to show the defendant’s nonperformance, you must be able to point to a specific element of the agreement that has not been performed. You must also be able to provide evidence of the specific damage that you have suffered and its monetary representation or value. This is one of the most important elements of a breach of contract claim. In some cases, the value is simply specific performance of the contract – for example, completion of work to be done or delivery of goods. In other instances the plaintiff needs to assess the value of the financial position that they would have been in had the contract been fulfilled. An example of this could be the profits lost for each day that a business would have been open had a contract been fulfilled.
Establishing a breach of contract can be more complicated than you would assume. For a professional assessment of whether you are eligible to file a claim, contact our experienced attorneys today.