When we think of a breach of contract, we think of some athlete or celebrity. But contracts exist in our lives that we may not even think of as contracts. The truth is, once you sign on the dotted line for goods or services, your signature is your legal bond. If you don’t believe it, try getting out of a telecommunications contract and see what happens. You will more than likely be subjected to some punitive fine or other assessment disguised as a service charge or fee. In today’s contract-obsessed world, it’s a good idea to understand what constitutes a breach of contract and how we can avoid it.
Actions to Avoid a Breach of Contract
From a legal point of view, there are several things you should always keep in mind before signing on the dotted line:
- Don’t sign anything until you are sure of its terms.
- Make sure the terms won’t change.
- Make sure the terms suit you.
- Decide whether you want to be bound by the contract’s provisions.
- Be sure of what constitutes a breach should you decide to break a contract.
Elements of a Breach of Contract Claim
Any lawyer will tell you that a breach of contract is serious. To be found in breach can mean a lot of money in fines and/or penalties. Luckily, there are several specific things to look out for if you don’t want it to happen to you.
There are four basic things to consider in determining a breach of contract.
- Existence of a valid contract
- The plaintiff’s performance or excuse for non-performance under the contract
- The defendant’s breach of contract
- Resulting damages
By the way, the agreement does not need to be in writing and an oral agreement can be enforceable in court under many conditions. The “Essential Elements” of a breach of contract claim in California are outlined in the Judicial Council of California’s Civil Jury Instructions, or CACI’s, No. 303. (CACI)
Ask an Attorney
When consulting an attorney regarding a California business breach of contract claim, ask them if they begin a case by consulting the CACI’s. Strategic, proactive counsel will use the CACI’s as the endpoint or guidepost for what will ultimately have to be proven. Will the elements of good faith and fair dealing be added considered in their argument.
Do you believe someone has not met the terms of a contract? Are you being charged? The Law Offices of Eric J Proos are here to answer contract questions. If you reside in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Westwood and surrounding CA communities and have questions, give us a call at (213) 784-3640.
All information provided in this article is for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. Each situation is dependent on the specific facts and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.