A breach of contract Virginia is one of the most common needs for a lawyer within the state. Many new business agreements are finalized with contracts that lack the necessary information. This can lead to disputes and eventually, a breach of contract situation.

The state of Virginia requires that in order to prove liability, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the other party failed to complete the terms of the contract. It is also important to understand the implied standard of good faith. A standard of good faith can be used to determine that a breach of contract occurred.

Important Elements in a Breach of Contract

A breach of contract is, in summary, when one party fails to complete the terms of the agreement. However, the legal system can be complex, and it is not always that simple to establish a breach of contract. Contracts are made up of many different conditions, duties, and covenants. In many cases, one condition is contingent on another, making it difficult to determine a breach of contract.

In order for plaintiffs to demonstrate a breach of contract, they must establish three elements:

  • There is a legally enforceable agreement.
  • The other party breached that agreement.
  • There were actual damages caused by the breach of contract.

Necessary Elements in a Contract

A legally enforceable contract should include the following elements:

  • The legal names of each party included in the contract.
  • The rights and expected obligations of each party.
  • Any representations or warranties.
  • Specific terms or conditions that each party is expected to follow.
  • Consideration (the essence of bargain).
  • Consequences if one party breaches the contract.
  • The financial remedies expected from a breach of contract.

Contracts that are missing these necessary elements can be difficult to enforce. Creating a contract that is thoroughly detailed can prevent any contract disputes later on.

Contracts do not necessarily have to be in writing to be legally enforceable. But when dealing with some types of contracts, it is a good idea to have it in writing. Contracts that include real estate transactions, lengthened timelines, or when one party is dealing with another party's debts, should be in writing in order to protect both parties.

Breach of Contract Claims

A breach of contract is not always legally punishable. The defendant may utilize one of the following defenses:

  • The plaintiff breached the contract first.
  • The plaintiff waived the breach of contract.
  • Both parties operated under a mutual mistake when creating the contract.
  • The plaintiff committed fraud when creating the contract.
  • One party took advantage of the other.

Types of Damages With a Breach of Contract

A contract indicates that an exchange of some kind should occur. Contracts are a normal part of our everyday lives, including such activities as buying a house, having work done to your house, and purchasing services. Breaching a contract can result in significant damages:

  • Compensatory damages: These are awarded to the party that suffered damages as a result of the breach. The goal is to compensate the party for what he or she has lost.
  • Consequential damages: These compensate for any damages that occurred as a direct result of the breach of contract. These damages include other expenses in addition to the actual costs incurred. Consequential damages are only available if the damages were foreseeable.
  • Punitive damages: These damages are given as a type of punishment to prevent the harmful behavior from occurring again. Punitive damages are not common in Virginia breach of contract cases.
  • Liquidated damages: These damages are previously agreed to and are listed in the contract in a special clause.
  • Injunctions/other equitable relief: These are awarded in addition to other types of damages. They are awarded when a specific value cannot be placed onto the breach of contract. An injunction can also legally enforce the contract to be completed.

Contracts legalize an agreement between two or more parties. Disagreements in contract terms can lead to a breach of contract. It is important to create a contract that specifically lists all of the expected terms and consequences. Additionally, all parties should be fully aware of the contract that they are signing.

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