In the United States, contracts are used to formalize all types of transactions. It would be nearly impossible to own a car, a home, or any other living necessity without signing a contract. While the protection of each party’s interests is a contract’s primary functions, if the terms of a contract are breached, legally ambiguous, or contested for any number of reasons, disagreements may arise and the interests of both parties may be put in jeopardy.
In layman’s terms, a contract is defined as “an agreement between private parties creating mutual obligations enforceable by law.” While there are some situations where an oral contract may suffice, written contracts are widely preferred as they are more easily enforced by law and reduce the risk of a misunderstanding between parties. For any contract to become legally binding, there are 5 main conditions that must be satisfied; offer/acceptance, mutuality of obligation, consideration, capacity (capable parties), and legality (legal purpose).
While some lawyers may use different terminology, the basic requirements (i.e. elements) of a contract can be defined as:
Although contract disputes can arise from even the slightest disagreements, typically, they stem from an allegation that one party has committed a breach of contract. In law, breach of contract refers to a situation where the terms of an agreement have been violated in any way, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. Contract breaches can generally be classified in one of two ways:
Beyond minor and material breaches, contract disputes arise most frequently when there are disagreements or misunderstandings over the terms of an agreement. While these types of contract disputes are common, they can be easily avoided by putting agreements in writing, using unambiguous/specific language when defining the terms of a contract, and making sure both parties fully understand and agree to the contract upon signing.
How you decide to resolve your contract dispute will depend heavily on the nature of the disagreement, who the opposing party is, and what you value in the resolution process. In general, if a contract dispute can be remedied without hiring lawyers and going to court, it will save both parties a considerable amount of time and money; however, in cases involving larger business entities and/or exchange values, an extrajudicial resolution may be impossible. In these types of cases, hiring an experienced contract dispute attorney can mean the difference between winning and losing your contract dispute case.
Once you have hired an attorney, there are numerous methods of dispute resolution available for settling your case. In general, these methods fall in one of two legal action categories; litigation (i.e. trial) and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
If you require legal assistance for a contract dispute, it is crucial to hire an attorney who will not only win for you, but who will also choose the type of dispute resolution that will save you as much time, energy, and money as possible. After reviewing the specifics of your case, an experienced attorney would likely begin by explaining which methods of dispute resolution may be appropriate for your case and why. While your legal team will need to consider any demands/requests from the opposing party, in all likelihood, the lawyer you hire will attempt to settle your case through various means of ADR before pursuing a decision via trial.
If you are involved in an ongoing contract dispute or are unsure if the terms of a contract have been breached, it is imperative that you consult an experienced contract dispute attorney. At Halperin & Halperin P.C., we have over 40 years of experience protecting clients in ongoing contract disputes and our legal team has successfully litigated even the most challenging cases. We take pride in treating every prospective client like family, and in the event that we cannot help you directly, we will find someone who can. Call or email us today for a free consultation.