What is a breach of contract?
As a general rule, a contract is an agreement or a set of promises exchanged between two parties, which the law will enforce and recognize as valid. Not all promises rise to the level of a valid and enforceable contract. While contract law differs from state to state, most states recognize the basic elements of a contract to be (1) an offer, (2) an acceptance, and (3) anexchange of consideration between the parties. This means the parties must manifest their intent to be bound by the promise and they must each agree to perform or do some specific thing called for by the agreement.
When one of the parties fails to perform his or her end of the bargain, this is called a breach of contract. A breach can arise in numerous and various ways. A breach might consist of failing to perform an act required to be performed under the contract, for example, failing to make a car payment called for by a loan agreement. It might also consist of rendering deficient or defective service called for by contract, for example, a painter who paints a house the wrong color.
When a person has been victimized by a breach of contract, he or she has a legal claim or cause of action for breach of contract. Generally, a victim must prove the following elements to prevail in such a claim:
- the existence of a valid and enforceable contract between the parties;
- a breach of the contract; and
- damages resulting from the breach.
A defendant who has been sued for breach of contract may have a variety of available defenses. The defendant may dispute that one or more of the above three elements have been properly satisfied. Even if the above elements have been satisfied, moreover, the defendant may be able to argue that he or she has a legal excuse for not performing under the contract. The law recognizes many such excuses to perform.
If you believe you have a breach of contract issue, you should contact an attorney with knowledge about the contract law in your state.
Please Note: Rabin Kammerer Johnson provides these FAQs for informational purposes only, and you should not interpret this information as legal advice. If you want advice as to how the law might apply to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, please contact one of our attorneys.