Updated November 17, 2020:

In Washington State, breach of contract is determined after much consideration. When a contract is created, it legally binds two or more parties to perform certain actions. In some instances, it forbids them from performing certain actions. When a breach of contract takes place, this means one or more of the parties did not fulfill the terms of the contract. Contracts are covered under civil law. If a breach in contract occurs, a civil claim can be made, and the case will appear before a civil judge.

There are instances in which a contract has been signed, and then it becomes impossible for one of the parties to follow the terms and conditions. When this happens, it may be possible for the party who cannot stay true to the contract to receive an injunction. If granted, the party will then have to pay the other party some type of compensation.

How Does Washington Handle Breaches of Contracts?

In the state of Washington, when contract disputes have become present, the first thing to look at is the age of the contract. Written contracts are only good for up to six years. An oral contract is only good for three years.

What Types of Breaches Are There?

There are many types of ways to breach a contract. The exact type of breach that can take place depends on the original contract itself. When a minor breach of a contract takes place, this is known as a partial or immaterial breach.

A minor breach means that a party held true to his or her obligation outlined in the contract, but that one or more terms were breached in some form or manner. As long as the party was able to fulfill its obligation and the entire goal of the contract was met, then this party can still be sued for monetary damages.

As to be expected, it is better for a minor breach to take place rather than a fundamental breach, which is considered the worst type of breach. When this happens, it means that one of the parties in the contract has performed some type of action, or not performed in some cases, that undermines the entire agreement, leaving the other party with no choice but to end the agreement.

A material breach is performed when one of the parties does not meet his or her obligations. It is very possible for a party to be sued when a material breach takes place.

What Questions Are Asked to Determine if a Breach of Contract has Occurred?

When determining if a breach has occurred, there will be several questions asked, which will include:

  • What did the contract require each party to do?
  • Was the contract ever edited?
  • If it was edited, were both parties aware of the changes?
  • How did the breach occur?
  • Was it a material breach?
  • Did the breach cause any type of damages?

Contract principles are typically based on legal statutes from hundreds of years ago. The state of Washington, like other states, creates its own state-level laws that outline how contract breaches are to be handled.

What Must Be Present For a Contract to Be Considered Valid?

In Washington, the first element that must be included in a contract in order for it to be legally binding is an offer. Then there must be acceptance. If there is no acceptance, there is no contract. When there is a counter-offer made and accepted, this in no way holds either of the parties legally bound to the original offer. Instead, a new contract will be created that holds the parties legally bound to the new offer.

For example, Tom offers Sally a car for $1,500, and Sally says no, but she will give him $1,200 for it. If Tom accepts, then a "meeting of the minds" has taken place and only the $1,200 offer is in place. The $1,500 offer goes out the window, and in order to fulfill the agreement, Sally will have to pay $1,200, and Tom cannot come back and ask for $300 more.

If an offer is made and there is no consideration -- something of value to be exchanged --, then the state of Washington does not usually view this as a legally binding contract. There must always be a consideration present.

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