What Are the Elements of a Breach of Contract Case?

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Contracts are an important part of the business world. Most of the time, organizations live up to their end of a contractual agreement without incident. Both sides get what they wanted to get out of the agreement, and everyone walks away happy.

Sometimes this isn’t the case. For whatever reason, one party is unable or unwilling to hold up their end of the agreement. When that happens, a breach of contract occurs. Generally, the aggrieved party has the right to seek compensation for whatever damages occurred as a result of this breach.

To prove a breach of contract claim, you must prove four things.

#1) The contract exists, and is valid. 

A valid contract contains three elements. One party makes an offer to another party in return for a consideration. The party accepts the offer and receives the consideration.

For example, most of us are familiar with leases. A tenant offers to pay rent to a landlord in return for an apartment. The landlord accepts the offer and receives the payment. The tenant then gets to live in the apartment.

The contract must be legally valid in order to qualify. Both parties must have been competent to sign the contract, and the contract must have been formed between parties who were dealing honestly with each other. That is, there must be an absence of fraud or coercion on the part of either party at the time the contract was formed.

Verbal contracts can exist and can be held up in court, though they are harder to work with and prove. Most contracts should be written contracts signed by both parties.

#2) The plaintiff has lived up to their end of the contract.

You can’t create a breach of contract suit if you, yourself, have failed to live up to your end of the bargain. 

#3) The defendant has failed to perform their duties as outlined by the contract.

You need to be able to demonstrate exactly how the other party has failed to fulfill their end of the contract.

In some cases this will be easy. For example, the other party agreed to pay you a certain amount, and they failed to do so.

At other times it will be far more complicated and disputable. It depends on both the nature of the contract and the nature of the breach.

#4) As a direct result of this failure, the plaintiff has suffered some kind of damage.

Most contract breaches cost money. Sometimes they also cost time, create expenses for the plaintiff, or create damages to the plaintiff’s reputation.

The court needs to be able to identify that damage and assign a monetary value to it so that you can be compensated. The court can also order the other party to uphold their end of the bargain.

You almost always are going to need an attorney’s help if you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to enforce a contract. Reach out to Scott Richman Law to get help today. 

See also:

Why Your Contracts Should Include Mediation Clauses

Don’t Just Sign on the Bottom Line: Contract Conundrums and Fine Print Pitfalls



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