Contract Disputes Attorney in Palm Desert, California
The purpose of a contract is to protect all parties who agree to it. Although contacts range from highly detailed and comprehensive documents to simply signing your name on a paper napkin, they are all basically the same. A contract states what a party agrees to do in exchange for something the other party agrees to provide (the "Consideration").
Some people find themselves stuck in a contract to which they no longer can or want to abide. Others find themselves facing unexpected challenges when the other party in a contract has breached it. Regardless of which side you may be on right now, it warrants a discussion of the consequences with an experienced business attorney.
At the Law Offices of Jerry J Goldstein, we work with individuals and companies on both sides of contract disputes throughout the Coachella Valley including Palm Desert, California, as well as communities in and around Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties, among others.
What Are Some Common Business Contract Disputes?
There are many different types of contracts into which an individual or business can enter. These include buy-sell agreements, non-compete and nondisclosure agreements, sales and service contracts, leases, and employment and partnership agreements, to name a few.
Any of these have the potential to be breached, either as a material breach or repudiation if one party fails to deliver the products, services, or payment to which they agreed. Three common types of disputes are related to:
1. Payment, pricing, or compensation;
2. Timing issues; and,
3. How long the contract is in effect.
Once there is a perceived breach of contract, the manner in which the dispute is to be resolved often is, in itself, a common dispute.
What Elements Are Necessary
to Prove Breach of Contract?
There are three key elements necessary to proving breach of contract in a legal action.
First, there must be evidence that a contract actually exists. If it is a written contract, this is easily proven. The existence of verbal contracts, on the other hand, may be more challenging to prove.
Second, there must be proof that there was a duty required by the contract that a party failed to fulfill. For example, a vendor was supposed to deliver a specific amount of product to you by a certain date and failed to do so.
Third, there must be proof that the breach caused the party damages. In the prior example, if the failure to deliver the specified amount of product by a specific date caused the party consternation but no lost sales, revenue, or reputational harm, there are no damages. If the breach did result in any of these issues, the party that is harmed can pursue compensation for them.
If these elements of a breach of contract can be proven, the injured party will likely prevail.
What Types of Defenses Can Be Raised
in Breach of Contract Litigation?
Affirmative and alternative defenses are commonly raised in breach of contract litigation. Affirmative defenses do not necessarily contest that there was a breach; however, the argument is made that the breach occurred due to mitigating circumstances and conditions which made the breach “excusable” or “justified.”
Some common affirmative defenses are a party’s incapacity to enter into a contract, failure of an oral contract to be confirmed in writing, fraud, or the requirement that a party to the contract do something illegal, unethical, or immoral.
Alternative defenses throw everything they can at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. For example, the contract is unenforceable for some reason. At times, alternative defenses can contradict each other. For example, a party may argue that it did adhere to the contract while also arguing that the contract is unenforceable.
What Contract Dispute Resolution Options Are There?
Of course, litigation of a contract dispute in court is one way to reach a resolution for it in the form of a judgment. There are, however, alternative dispute resolution options as well.
Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration also provide ways to resolve disputes. The parties and their attorneys may attempt to negotiate a settlement. The parties may agree to mediate the dispute, wherein they present their “sides” of the argument to a disinterested mediator who works to obtain a compromise resolution agreement between the parties. In arbitration, a third party hears the evidence and renders a decision, much like a judge or jury. When pursuing this option, both parties must agree in advance to accept the arbiter’s decision as binding.
Contract Disputes Attorney
Serving Palm Desert, California
The Law Offices of Jerry J Goldstein has represented a wide variety of clients in Palm Desert, California, and the surrounding areas in contract disputes. We deliver advice to those considering a breach, those who have been accused of doing so, and those who are pursuing remedies for being on the harmed side of a breach. If any of these describe you, call us now to schedule a consultation.