1. Breach of Contract
2. Actual Breach vs. Anticipatory Breach
3. Minor Breach vs. Material Breach
4. Oral vs. Written Contract
5. Remedies for Broken Contracts

Lawyers for contracts can be beneficial as certain contracts can be very complex, and having an attorney assist in the process will help you protect yourself and your business. Contract lawyers have a much better understanding regarding implied and express terms that are included in contracts, as well as the best way to enforce such contracts. Therefore, a contract lawyer can help draft and review a contract for you, while ensuring that important items are identified in the contract to keep you protected.

Breach of Contract

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. Each party promises to perform a certain duty, which should all be outlined in the contract. A breach of contract occurs when one party fails to perform his or her contractual obligations within the required timeframe that is identified in the contract. If one party does in fact breach the contract, the non-breaching party is entitled to damages for the breach of contract.

Actual Breach vs. Anticipatory Breach

There are two types of breaches – actual breach and anticipatory breach. An actual breach occurs if a party fails to perform his or her obligations on the date the performance is due or when one party performs and the other party doesn’t.

An anticipatory breach occurs when one party refuses to perform his or her obligations identified in the contract before the due date of when the performance is expected. An example of this is if a party agrees to sell his car to a buyer in two weeks. However, after week one, the seller indicates that he will not sell his car to the buyer; therefore, the breach is an anticipatory breach.

Minor Breach vs. Material Breach

A breach of contract could be minor or material. A minor breach, which is referred to as a partial breach, is the failure to complete a minor part of the contract. However, although it’s a breach of contract, the contract is still fulfilled since the breach is so minor in comparison to the overall services performed.

A material breach, however, is substantial enough that it breaches the entire contract. For example, a seller might refuse to provide the buyer with the keys to the car after the buyer successfully completed all required items identified in the contract, i.e., purchasing the car.

Oral vs. Written Contract

Oral and written contracts are usually enforceable in a court of law; however, it is best to enter into a written contract as there can be additional disputes regarding what was orally agreed upon.

Furthermore, there are some contracts that must be in writing in order for them to be legally enforceable, and these include the following:

  • Contracts over the sale of land or property
  • A promise to pay someone else’s debt
  • A contract that can’t be completed within one year of entering into it
  • Contracts that involve the sale of goods for more than $500
  • Contracts that extend beyond the lifetime of the person performing under the contract.

Remedies for Broken Contracts

There are several remedies for broken (breached) contracts:

Compensatory damages are the most common type of legal remedy and will provide money for the injured party. Restitution is provided to the injured party, and requires the breaching party to pay back the injured party until he or she is satisfied (in legal terms, “whole again”).

Punitive damages are provided if the breach of contract is extreme; such damages are provided to punish the breaching party. Specific performance means that the breaching party is required to perform under the contract.

It is important to remember that states have various laws concerning contracts and the breach of contract. Therefore, it is helpful to hire a lawyer to draft your contract so that you have full protection and ensure that you are protected in the event of a breach of contract.

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