Breach of Contract Basics

Contract (2)In today’s face-paced world, handshake deals are a thing of the past. Now it is not unusual for business agreements to be outlined in 50+ page contracts. But, even with detailed written contracts, parties still break their promises. It can be even more complex if you are somewhere between a handshake deal and an executed contract. Can you still sue the other party for breach?

In determining if a contract exists, the court will ask several questions, including:

  • Was there an offer and acceptance? An offer is a promise to do something, or to forbear from doing something, within a specified amount of time. An offer can be accepted by either a promise or through performance.
  • Was there consideration? There must be consideration exchanged between the parties in a contract. Consideration must be legal, adequate inducement exchanged for the promise to do something that the party is not legally required to do or not do.
  • Is the agreement in contract form? The law sets forth certain requirements that must be met for certain types of agreements. For example, if real property is to be transferred, the contract must be in writing.
  • Was there capacity to contract? For a contract to be valid, the parties must have the legal capacity and competency to enter into the agreement.
  • Is the contract legal? The law requires the subject matter of the contract to be legal and not against public policy.

Not all contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. However, having your agreement in writing can save you from spending a lot of time and money in trying to resolve disputes. It can also increase your chances of recovery if there is a breach of the contract.

If you have a contract that you believe meets the above elements and you are interested in learning more about pursuing a breach of contract claim, contact us to schedule an appointment.

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