San Diego Contract Litigation Attorney
What is a breach of contract? When one or more of the parties to a contract fails to perform their end of the bargain without an established legal reason, the contract is said to be in “breach”. A contract can also be breached by many factors including but not limited to a supply or labor challenge, one of the parties failure to pay, providing “notification” (declaring they do not intent to perform on their contracted responsibilities), or if one party blocks or prevents the other party from being able to perform.
Each party in a breach of contract case has important responsibilities under the contract. The failure to take prompt legal action as either the party who breaches the agreement or as the victim of a breach can result in a substantial business, legal and financial impact. If you are concerned about a breach of contract in San Diego or Southern California we invite you to review the strong recommendations of our clients and contact the Watkins Firm or call 858-535-1511 for a complimentary consultation today.
What Are Some of the Types of a Contract Breach in San Diego and Southern California
There are generally four main categories of a contract breach. A Material Breach occurs when one of the parties fails to live up to their obligations under the contract in a substantial way. In a material breach the victim of the breach is entitled to seek a legal remedy (usually in the form of “damages”). A Fundamental Breach of contract occurs when the fact that one of the parties to the agreement is unwilling or unable to complete their commitments under the contract it renders the other party unable to fulfill their own responsibilities.
An Anticipatory Breach occurs when the deadline(s) established in the agreement cannot be met. Most contracts have prescribed dates upon which the satisfactory completion or execution of the commitments in the agreement must be completed. There are times when one of the parties fulfills most of the central portions of the agreement(s) established in the contract but fails to meet a specific condition. This is referred to as a Minor Breach.
Any breach of contract creates the potential for legal and financial exposure and damages. If you believe you or your company is the victim of a breach of contract, or if you or your company will be unable to fulfill the terms of a contractual agreement you need the advice and counsel of the experienced business and contract dispute resolution attorneys at the Watkins Firm.
We invite you to review the strong recommendations of our clients and contact the Watkins Firm or call 858-535-1511 for a complimentary consultation today.
What Elements Must Be Present for a Valid Breach of Contract Case?
There are several elements which are required for a party to have a valid claim for and pursue a contract-related claim or remedy here in San Diego or Southern California. Of course, there must be substantial evidence that a contract does, in fact, exist between the parties. If a party wishes to pursue damages or other claim as a result of a contract breach they must be able to demonstrate their fulfillment of their end of the contract “benefit of the bargain.” There must be documentable evidence that a valid contract breach has actually occurred, and the victim of the contract breach must demonstrate they have suffered losses, financial damages or some other form of tangible “harm” as a direct result of the breach of the agreement between the parties.
What Happens When a Breach of Contract Occurs?
When one of our clients believes a business contract has been breached, or if they are accused of breach of contract there are many options to remedy the situation. The Watkins Firm is an experienced business and contract law firm serving San Diego and Southern California, and we work with our clients to identify all available paths to resolution. In most breach of contract cases the parties entered in an agreement they believed was mutually beneficial, and they wish to see it fulfilled.
The first and most obvious step is to notify the other party and express concern over the breach, and request immediate attention to and commitment to uphold the original agreement. We are looking for substantive corrective action, compensation and evidence of a course correction on their part that ensures our client that the contract terms will be met. If another party on your contract has caused the breach you are required by law to take prudent and reasonable action to mitigate the potential damages you may suffer due to the breach.
Negotiations may be required to remind the parties of their obligations and to establish a modified path forward to reach our client’s objectives. Mediation and/or arbitration are remedies that we include in almost every agreement we draft. The goal of mediation and arbitration is to move the parties through any issue or dispute that has arisen and help to establish grounds for a successful resolution. When all else fails, or if timing or the situation requires we will file a lawsuit and pursue all business litigation options available to protect our clients’ interests. We make our clients aware of the risks and benefits associated with each step along the way, balancing in the ramifications of costs and business realities.
What Are “Damages” and What Types of Potential Damages May Result When a Business Contract is Breached?
Damages in these cases are generally the financial cost to the victim of a contract breach to find another solution which allows them to achieve the “benefit of the bargain” expected in the original contract. Damages must be factual, documentable, realistic, measurable and “knowable” (versus simple conjecture on the part of the injured party).
One of the most common forms of financial compensation in a San Diego or Southern California Breach of Contract cases would be “liquidated damages.” These damages are usually established by the contract itself and might, for example, require the party who breaches the agreement to pay the victim of the breach $500 per day from the original completion date specified in the contract until the date the contract is completed or fulfilled by the breaching party.
“Ordinary damages” are also quite common in these cases. Ordinary damages are related to the actual cost to the victim of a contract breach to find another alternative to achieve the original “benefit of the bargain.” What is the measurable, documentable, reasonable expense to find another supplier or provider as well as the difference the victim had to pay that new contract partner over the amount specified in the original agreement.
“Punitive damages” are available in some breach of contract cases. Punitive damages are awarded by the Court as a punishment for the actions of the party who has breached the agreement and serve as warning against others in an effort to deter similar behavior from that party or other parties in the future.
Another form of damages in these cases is “Attorneys fees.” Many contracts specify that the party who breaches an agreement must pay the reasonable attorneys fees of the victim of the breach. In other cases, attorneys fees are simply a component of “ordinary damages.”
Can You Force a Party to Perform on a Contract?
Forcing a party to uphold their end of a contract is known as “specific performance” in legal terms, and with the exception of real estate disputes, specific performance remedies are often impossible to compel, and this option may only be available in a rare number of situations. In most cases, the courts are looking for a monetary solution to a breach of contract. What was the result of the failure to perform on the agreement and how much of a financial award is required to make things right for the injured party. These cases can become quite complex, and it is often a challenge to calculate the financial impact of a breach of contract. Did the failure of your supplier cost you a major contract with one of your own customers as a result of the failure of your supplier to fulfill their part of the agreement? Is it possible to find another vendor to fulfill that portion of the contract, and what is the additional cost of that option?
In most cases the court will look for appropriate financial “damages” to compensate for the breach, as this is a much easier solution to legally and practically enforce.
Defending a San Diego or Southern California Contract Breach
The Watkins Firm provides a strong defense for clients who are alleged to have breached an agreement in San Diego or Southern California. If you are a business owner, executive, company or individual who has been accused of breaching a contract you can draw upon nearly four decades of proven breach of contract defense strategies. In reality, the Watkins Firm is able to resolve the majority of business disputes such as a breach of contract through leveraged negotiation. The victim of a breach of contract has a legal obligation to take prudent, timely and reasonable action to mitigate the damages associated with the breached agreement. The failure to do so is a strong defense in these cases.
While these cases are extremely fact specific there are several affirmative defenses and proven strategies to defend allegations of a contract breach. We work to negotiate a settlement which protects our clients while often providing the opportunity to repair part or all of the breach in question. Mediation is an effective, confidential and private legal venue which is required of any case which is moving toward litigation. Many contracts specifically stipulate arbitration in place of trial in a Court of Law. Your Watkins Firm breach of contract defense attorney will work with you to identify potential resolutions and resolve the matter with opposing parties and their counsel.
Contact Experienced San Diego Breach of Contract Lawyers
If contracts form the foundation for all of business, then a breach of contract can cause significant disruption in your business resulting in lost revenues, productivity and opportunity. When business transactions don’t go smoothly it may not be time to hit the “Litigate” button, but your business and contract attorney has to be prepared to see the issue through. In many cases it is possible for our experienced attorneys to negotiate a solution that works for you and the other parties.
If you are concerned about the performance of a party in a business agreement, or if you have been accused of a breach of contract we invite you to call us for a free consultation at 858-535-1511 or contact us to schedule an appointment in person. We will work with you to develop options that help to accomplish your business and monetary goals, while fulfilling or offsetting the impact of the contract objective(s) established in the original agreement.
Contact a Breach of Contract Resolution Attorney Today
To set up a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our knowledgeable San Diego business lawyers, call us at 858-535-1511 or contact us online.