What Are Examples Of Breach Of Contract Cases That Your Firm Takes On?
Our firm handles many different types of breach of contract cases. At Matthews Law Firm, Inc., we enforce or defend contracts to provide goods or services, real estate purchase agreements, real estate leases, purchase and sales of businesses, stock purchase agreements, equity purchase agreements, and asset purchase agreements, just to name a few. There are many different types of contracts. If it is business-related, we can generally handle it and we also draft various types of contracts for our clients.
When you have a properly drafted contract, regardless of what area of law it applies to, you greatly reduce the likelihood of a dispute. Among other terms, contracts should have termination clauses, attorney’s fee and venue clauses and a start and end date. People often draft contracts on their own or hire friends who may not have experience in business law. That can cause significant problems.
Recently, we resolved a dispute over the purchase and sale of a multi-family residential property. Our client was the seller and he had his real estate agent draft the purchase and sale agreement. This wasn’t a standard residential sale which is usually handled by real estate agents in California. There were contingencies and city approvals needed before the buyer was required to close escrow. Unfortunately, the seller’s real estate agent was not qualified to draft these more complex terms and a dispute over what the terms actually meant arose between seller and buyer and both sides retained counsel. Fortunately, we were able to work with the buyer’s attorney to get it resolved, but this delayed the process and made it more expensive for our client than if he had come to us at the beginning.
Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to have your contracts drafted by an experienced business lawyer.
Under General Legal Principles, What Remedies Are Available To The Non-Breaching Party In A Breach Of Contract Claim?
Generally, the court is going to look at what each party was supposed to perform and receive under the contract. If you were supposed to receive $100 to mow someone’s lawn and they didn’t pay you after you did so, the court is most likely going to award you $100 as damages. Moreover, if you hire an attorney to pursue the claim and there is an attorney’s fee clause in the contract which provides that the prevailing party in a dispute is entitled to reimbursement of their attorney’s fees,” you can get your $100 plus attorney’s fees. In most states, you can also receive interest on amounts due. In California, interest accrues at 10% per year, which is fairly generous and some states provide much lower rates. You can also get your court costs back.
In contract cases, you generally receive the benefit of the bargain. If you bargained for $100 and win the case, you will get what you bargained for, as well as ancillary fees and costs if you had a properly drafted contract.
What Factors Does The Court Look At In Determining A Remedy If A Breach Is Found?
In breach of contract cases, the court is generally going to look at the terms of the contract and money damages are by far the most common remedy. However, in real estate cases, if you have a contract to sell real property to someone, and then change your mind and decide not to sell, there’s a remedy under contract law known as “specific performance.” Specific performance is a remedy where the court will order you to perform one or more terms in the contract (i.e., transfer title to your real property to the buyer if you refused to do so.).
The law has developed over the years and considers real estate unique. You can’t always compensate someone in money damages. For instance, if someone is buying your residence for $300, and it’s really worth $400, just paying them $100 may not adequately compensate the buyer. They wanted your property and no two properties are identical.
Therefore, the two remedies you have in breach of contract cases involve an award of money damages or specific performance.