What is a Breach of Contract
A breach of contract is a failure to perform a duty that is an obligation under the terms of the contract involved. It is basically a breach of promise, or a failure to perform obligations under the contract according to the terms of the contract. The failure to perform duties under the contract may be intentional or not, and there may be other related claims, such as fraud, that may be included in the breach of contract complaint. The failure of performance must be considered a material breach, meaning that it is significant and affects the value of the contract. For example, a tenant who is behind in rent or moves early out without notice is in breach of the lease contract.
An anticipatory breach of contract occurs when the other party indicates there will be a failure to perform according to contract terms before the actual time for performance arrives. Typically, an express statement of an intent not to carry out obligations under the contract must be made. When an anticipatory breach occurs, the non-breaching party is no longer obligated to fulfill his or her duties under the contract, and the anticipatory breach may be raised in a defense in any later claim for breach of promise.
How to Get A Court Order After a Breach of Contract
When a breach of contract occurs and the parties can't reach agreement on a settlement, a breach of contract lawsuit may be filed. The party to the contract who is the non-breaching party and files the contract complaint is called the plaintiff, and the breaching party is named as the defendant. The plaintiff must remain willing or make an offer to perform the obligations under the contract in order to complain about the defendant's breach. A sample complaint can be filled out requesting damages to compensate for the plaintiff's losses.
Specific performance, in which the plaintiff asks the court to order the defendant to carry out the terms of the contract, is only ordered when the defendant's performance involves something of such a unique nature that it can't be substituted. An example of a complaint requesting specific performance might be one involving the sale of a rare collector's car. Most often, the court will instead order money damages to compensate for the breach of duty. Damages in breach of contract cases are designed to restore the plaintiffs to the position they held before the breach rather than punish the defendant for the breach of duty.