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What Exactly is a Breach of Contract?

A Philadelphia commercial law attorney can provide assistance in situations where a breach of contract occurred. A breach of contract can have serious consequences, both for the victim of the breach and for the person who is accused of failing to fulfill an agreement. It is important to understand when a breach occurs so you can determine if your agreement has been violated in the eyes of the law. 

A breach of contract occurs when any party to a contractual agreement fails to fulfill contractual obligations. There are different types of breaches, and sometimes there is confusion over whether a breach has actually happened or not. As a result, it is important for those who are parties to a contract to understand what Pennsylvania law considers a breach to be.

Curley & Rothman, LLC can provide guidance on contractual obligations, on the definition of breach of contract and on the appropriate response to a potential breach. Give us a call to find out more.

What Exactly is a Breach of Contract?

A contract creates private law, and the parties to the agreement must abide by all of its terms. You are legally obligated to fulfill the provisions of a contract, just as you are obliged to obey any law which is passed by the government. If you fail to fulfill your obligations, the other party to the contract can use the court system to obtain a legal remedy, including compensation for damages.

An unjustified failure to fulfill any contract terms is called a breach of contract. A breach can happen when you fail to perform at all or when your performance of the terms of the contract is not satisfactory. For example, if there is a contract to paint a house yellow, your failure to paint the home at all would be considered a breach and it would also be considered a breach if you painted the house red.

Breaches are divided into two different categories: material breaches and non-material breaches. A material breach happens if the failure to perform gets at the heart of the contract and undermines its fundamental purpose. If a party to the contract substantially or fully fails to perform and the purpose of the entire contractual agreement is frustrated as a result of this failure, a material breach has happened. A non-material breach, on the other hand, occurs when a party to the agreement fails to live up to some contract term but substantial performance still occurs.

There are various defenses to breach of contract, which can justify a failure to perform. If the party to a contract did not have legal authority to enter into the contract, for example, he cannot be held accountable for breaching the agreement.  Minors under the age of 18 and people who are mentally incapacitated are not able to enter into contracts and cannot be held accountable for nonperformance of any agreement they sign.

Sometimes, unexpected intervening events will also make it impossible to perform a contract, and thus no remedies for breach will be available. For example, if you enter into a contract to sell your house but the house burns down in the meantime, it is not a legally actionable breach of the contract for you to not go through with selling the burned down home.

When a breach of a legally valid contract occurs and there is no justification of the breach, the party who was affected by the failure to perform can pursue legal remedies in court. Remedies can range from monetary damages for actual provable losses caused by the breach to equitable remedies such as specific performance. If a party seeks specific performance, the court would order the person who breached the contractual agreement to follow through with the contract and to perform as agreed.

Getting Help from a Philadelphia Commercial Law Attorney

If you believe a breach may have occurred or if you have been accused of breaching a contract, you need to get legal help right away. Curley & Rothman, LLC can provide assistance with interpreting your contract to determine what each parties obligations are and whether a breach happened or not.

We can also offer you guidance on responding to a breach and pursuing appropriate legal remedies, or on defending yourself against accusations that a breach occurred. To find out more about the assistance a Philadelphia commercial law attorney can offer, give us a call today. You can reach us at 610-834-8819 or contact us online to learn more about the ways in which our legal team can assist you in contract cases.