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What are the Elements of a Breach of Contract Claim?

Martinez Law Office, Inc May 24, 2022

When doing business, you are likely to sign a number of contracts with other parties to agree on mutually beneficial terms. Once a contract is signed, both parties anticipate that the other party will perform their contractual obligations. However, a party may fail to fulfill its obligations—either partially or wholly—resulting in a potential breach of contract claim. If you are a business owner, contractor, or individual involved in a contract breach dispute, you need to understand the elements that must be established when bringing or defending the claim.

Seek legal counsel from a business litigation attorney whether you want to sue someone for violating the terms of a contract or need assistance defending against a breach of contract claim. At Martinez Law Office, Inc., I am dedicated to helping business owners and individuals in Santa Ana, California, and throughout Southern California protect and assert their contractual rights.

What You Need to Know About Breach of Contract Claims

A breach of contract is a situation in which a party of a legally binding agreement does not fulfill its obligations outlined in the agreement. However, what constitutes a breach of contract and what remedies are available depends on the specific terms of the contract.

A breach of contract may occur when a party fails to honor its contractual obligations by not performing an agreed-upon term of a contract, not performing in the agreed-upon time frame, or refusing to perform at all. When such situations occur, the wronged party has a right to bring a breach of contract claim in order to recover damages and losses, seek an order for specific performance, or simply prevent further damage from potential future breaches.

Types of Breaches

California law recognizes four types of contract breaches:

  1. Minor breach. This type of breach occurs when a party fails to fulfill some of its contractual obligations even though the party substantially performs its essential obligations of the contract. An example of a minor breach is completing a construction job but using different materials.

  2. Material breach. A material breach is a more serious violation of the terms of the contract. Essentially, the violation must defeat the fundamental purpose of the contract in order to be considered “material.” An example would be a party’s failure to complete the agreed-upon construction job.

  3. Actual breach. This type of contract breach occurs when a party refuses to fulfill its contractual obligations by the due date.

  4. Anticipatory breach. An anticipatory breach occurs when one party of a legally binding contract indicates through its words or action that it will fail to perform its obligations under the contract.

It is important to understand the type of breach in your situation in order to seek proper legal action and explore appropriate remedies.

Elements of Breach of Contract Claim

When pursuing legal action for a breach of contract, the plaintiff (the wronged party suing the breaching party) must prove the following elements:

  1. The existence of a valid and enforceable contract between the parties;

  2. The plaintiff performed their obligations as required by the contract;

  3. The defendant breached the contract; and

  4. The plaintiff suffered damages as a direct result of the defendant’s breach of contract.

The success of a breach of contract claim depends on the plaintiff’s ability to establish the above-mentioned elements. In some situations, the plaintiff’s performance of contractual obligations may be excused (e.g., their performance was contingent on the defendant’s performance).

Remedies to Breach of Contract

When the wronged party can prove that a breach of contract has occurred by establishing the above-mentioned elements, they have a right to pursue legal remedies. Possible remedies to a breach of contract may include:

  • Monetary damages. Pursue monetary compensation for the damages and losses incurred because of the breach.

  • Restitution. This type of legal remedy is intended to restore the wronged party to their pre-contract position, if appropriate and applicable.

  • Specific performance. Many breach of contract cases end with the court ordering the breaching party to fulfill their contractual obligations. The remedy is known as “specific performance.”

  • Rescission. The court may also order rescission to allow the non-breaching party to cancel the contract and be released from its obligations under the contract.

Appropriate remedies to a breach of contract depend on the specific facts of the case. Reach out to a knowledgeable business litigation attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and determine which remedies would be appropriate in your case.

Work with an Experienced Business Attorney

Get in touch with a skilled business litigation attorney to find out whether or not there is a case for breach of contract. At Martinez Law Office, Inc., I have a proven track record of helping clients throughout Southern California resolve their contract disputes. With decades of experience in the field of contract law, I assist individuals and businesses in Santa Ana and the rest of California in upholding their legal rights. Set up a consultation to discuss the necessary elements of a breach of contract claim in your specific case.