Updated October 14, 2020

Breach of contract examples of cases can include any scenario in which one or more parties that are legally bound to uphold the terms of a contractual agreement fail to meet their obligations. In these cases, it is usually warranted for the other involved parties to pursue legal action for sustained damages or in an effort to enforce the execution of the original agreement.

Definition of Breach of Contract

When parties involved in a contract, whether that contract is established orally or in writing, fail to uphold their part of the agreement, it's possible to determine them to be in breach of contract. There are a number of ways in which a breach of contract might occur but the most common include:  

  • Failing to deliver services or goods  
  • Failing to complete a job  
  • Failing to pay in a timely manner  
  • Providing services or goods that are subpar  

In simple terms, a breach of contract happens when promises are broken or somebody fails to provide things that are included in the terms of the agreement.

The formal definition of a breach of contract includes the following:  

  • Unjustifiably failing to adhere to the terms of a contractual agreement. 
  • Violating an agreement by failing to perform or interfering with another party's ability to meet their obligations under the contract.

Breach of contract is among the most common reasons behind lawsuits in the United States and can occur in a number of ways. Established laws offer a variety of ways to remedy a breach that are designed to make things right for the injured party. These court-ordered remedies are not designed to act as a punishment for the party guilty of a breach of contract, however. Rather, they are meant to act as a means to restore the injured party to the position they would have been in if the breach had never happened.

There are a number of forms a breach of contract might take, such as:

  • A partial breach of contract
  • A material breach of contract
  • An anticipatory breach of contract
  • A specific performance breach of contract

Breach of Contract Elements

To successfully pursue a lawsuit for breach of contract, certain elements need to exist including:  

  • Proof that a valid contract exists  
  • Proof that the contract's terms have been breached  
  • Actual losses or damages  

In other words, this means that there must be a contract in place that can be validated in court. However, it's not a requirement for the contract to be in writing. Oral contracts can just as easily be held up in court. There are three things that need to be established to prove that a valid contract is in place:  

  • A contractual offer  
  • Acceptance of the terms of the agreement  
  • Considerations have been received   

In examples of breach of contract cases, an offer includes discussions regarding the agreement to provide services or goods in exchange for something of value. It is also necessary to demonstrate an intention to enter into the agreement with one another.  Acceptance refers to the act of agreeing to the terms associated with the exchange outlined in the agreement. While it's not necessary for a contract to be in writing for it to be held up in court, it is usually easier to prove that the agreement has been accepted due to the fact that a legal document exists which specifies the terms each party has agreed to.  

Consideration refers to products, services, or some other thing of value that each involved party has received (or intended to receive) as a result of the contract. If one party promises to provide something without getting anything back in return, however, it tends to look like a gift. This is important to note because gifts cannot be enforced as considerations and this may prevent the ability to successfully pursue legal action for a breach of contract.

Additionally, past agreements that were written to cover the provision of services or goods are not considered to be a valid contract. The contract needs to be agreed upon before an exchange happens for it to hold up in court. A breach of contract happens when the terms of a contract are not adhered to. It is important to note that not every term of the contract will be taken literally. For legal action to be warranted, a breach of contract must actually decrease the overall value of the agreement. This is what is known as a "material breach of contract."

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