Are you involved in a BREACH OF CONTRACT dispute?
Soreide Law Group, represents clients in breach of contract disputes. Many times the contract dictates that these claims are to be arbitrated or mediated in a specific venue. We represent clients in breach of contract disputes in court and before various arbitration boards. We offer very competitive hourly and contingency fee rates depending on the nature of the dispute.
The basic rule is that parties to contracts must perform as specified in the contract unless the parties agree to the change in the contract's terms, or the actions of the party who deviates from the terms of the contract are implicitly accepted ("ratified") by the action or non-action of the other party.
If there is no acceptance of deviation from the terms of the contract, and the deviation is serious enough to make any real difference in the intended result of the contract, then the deviating party is said to have breached the contract. His justified prevention or interference with the performance of the other party is also a breach.
Of course if one party fails more or less entirely to perform the contract, or totally prevents the performance of the contract by the other party, the situation is straightforward. The situation becomes more complex where the argument is over the quality of materials, the timing of work, or something of that sort.
Breach of contract leaves the nonperforming or improperly performing party open to a claim for damages by the other party. The non- breaching party is relieved of his obligations under the contract by the other party's breach.
The aggrieved party, to help support his claim for breach, should have done all the things required of him under the contract up until the time of breach, and must have done nothing to make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for the other party to perform his share. The nonperforming party can be expected to make excuses for his conduct, and he will try to find ways to blame the other party—an excellent argument for performing one's own side of a contract punctiliously and in a manner that leaves a record which others can see.
There are so many possible ways for performance of a contract to give rise to dissatisfaction that the courts have been forced to analyze the matter in much more subtle terms than "breached" or "not breached."
Our attorneys can help you recover damages or defend you in disputes
The doctrine of "substantial performance" saves a party who has largely fulfilled his obligations under a contract from suffering major loss merely because he has unintentionally fallen short in some particular which does not affect the essence of the contract.
There has to be a limit to the quibbles of the dissatisfied customer, for example, or the courts would be swamped with trials over precise shades of paint and tiny imperfections in services. A party can unintentionally fall short of perfection, but if he has substantially performed his duties under the contract, he can still sue the other party for payment.
The dissatisfied party, on the other hand, can usually win some adjustment in the amount of payment as compensation for the minor defects in the performance.
Where a party's unintentional failure to perform fully does affect the essence of the contract, he cannot sue the other party "on the contract" in order to be paid. To the extent that his work has benefited the other party, he may recover on the theory of a contract implied by law (quasi-contract), as explained above.
The ordinary remedy for breach of contract is money damages. A contract should always foresee the possibility of nonperformance, intentional or unintentional, and should spell out what is to be done.
Some contracts go so far as to include an agreement on a set amount of "liquidated damages" which are to be paid in case something goes wrong. These are acceptable to the courts as long as the amount of liquidated damages is a reasonable estimation of the harm that would be done by the breach. If the amount is so excessive as to amount to a penalty or fine rather than compensation for harm the courts will ignore the liquidated damages clause and assess damages by actually measuring at trial the financial harm done by the breach.
You should, unless the provision may pose a worse threat to you than to the other party, specify in your contracts that if legal action for breach is necessary, the losing party will pay attorney's fees.
If you and the other party live in different geographical jurisdictions, you should try to include a provision which says that the contract is to be enforced under the laws of your jurisdiction. This makes it possible for any litigation concerning the contract to take place in a court near your home.
The purpose of damages in suits on contracts is at best to place the injured party in as nearly as possible the same position he would have been in had the contract been properly performed, and at least to restore him as nearly as possible to the position he would have been in had he made no contract at all. In other words, no one should suffer loss because another has failed to perform a contract properly.
Where nonperformance is total, for example, the damaged party should get back any money he has paid, along with additional money to compensate him for any actual financial loss which resulted from the nonperformance. The loss must have been a reasonably foreseeable result of the nonperformance.
Do not expect, however, to receive money damages designed merely to punish the breaching party for dishonesty or bad behavior. Such "punitive damages", which are possibilities in suits for personal injury and other wrongs, are not available in suits on contracts. Of course if you can allege that you were defrauded, for example, then you are suing for wrongdoing beyond the breach of contract, and you may receive punitive damages.
The principals of damages in contract suits are as numerous as the problems that can arise from contracts. All we have been able to do here is to give some idea of the ramifications.
If you need a breach of contract dispute solved call attorney Lars Soreide of the Soreide Law Group today. Call 888-760-6552 It is our pleasure to review your case for free.
Local areas served: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, South Florida