A contract is an agreement formed between two parties to achieve a specific task or end result. When you enter into a contract, you do so with the intention of fulfilling the obligations that you’ve agreed to and with the expectation that the other party will do the same. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you find yourself in a situation where the signor of an agreement has not held up their end of the bargain, you may be able to file a breach of contract claim – but only in certain circumstances.
The first requirement of a breach of contract claim is being able to show that the contract existed and was legally enforceable. Though this may seem simple and obvious, it is vitally important. Whether a contract is written – which is preferable – or based on a handshake, there must be to question that one party agreed to perform some service or deliver some good and that the other agreed to provide some form of consideration in exchange. If any part of the contract involved fraud or was agreed to under duress then the contract will not be enforceable and a breach of contract claim will be nearly impossible to pursue.
If the contract was legal and enforceable, and you have upheld your side of the agreement and the other party has not, you are most of the way to being able to pursue a breach of contract claim, but there is still one other piece that you will need to prove: You need to show that the other party’s breach of the contract’s terms has caused you actual harm. Courts will not view a failure to (for example) meet a deadline or to perform some aspect of a contract’s term if the impact of the failure was marginal and the cause was reasonable. Though fulfillment may be ordered where appropriate, compensation is unlikely.
The key to filing a successful breach of contract claim is the ability to prove that a material breach has occurred. This involves a significant departure from the terms of the contract for which you can prove that you suffered significant damages. Beyond compensation for money or time lost or expenses incurred, a court may also simply order performance of the contract.
If you have questions about your ability to file a breach of contract claim, our experienced attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to set up a time for an appointment.