Overview of Breach of Contract

Breach of contract constitutes a legal violation wherein one or more parties fail to uphold their agreed-upon obligations, either partially or entirely, leading to non-performance or interference.

This occurs when a party fails to fulfill its contractual duties as specified, communicates an intent to do so, or appears incapable of fulfilling those duties.

What Constitutes a Breach of Contract?

A breach of contract occurs when one party fails to fulfill its obligations as outlined in a valid contract, resulting in damages to the other party. To establish a breach of contract, three key elements must be present:

  • A valid contract must exist.
  • One party must have performed its obligations.
  • The performing party must have suffered damages due to the breach.

A breach can manifest in various forms:

  • Failure to perform on time.
  • Failure to perform altogether.
  • Failure to perform in accordance with the contract's terms.

It's important to note that not every breach automatically entitles the injured party to legal action. The breach must be material, meaning it has a significant impact or causes financial harm to the injured party.

Dispute Resolution Alternatives

Resolving a breach of contract issue doesn't always require a full-blown court case. Parties have alternative options for dispute resolution:


Mediation is an interactive procedure in which an unbiased third party helps conflicting parties resolve disputes by communication and negotiation methods in a neutral manner.


In the formal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure of arbitration, a neutral third party makes a definitive ruling that is legally enforceable. It is frequently employed for resolving commercial disputes.

Remedies for a Breach of Contract

The non-breaching party suffers damages when a contract is broken, and they are entitled to legal remedies or relief. The following are the main remedies for a contract violation:


Damages may be specified in the contract or awarded by the court. Different types of damages include:

  • Compensatory damages: Compensatory damages are meant to restore the non-breaching party to the same situation as existed before the breach. For instance, if Store needed the widgets for a big promotion, compensatory damages would cover the money lost during the sale.
  • Liquidated damages: These are predetermined damages mentioned in the contract, often used when calculating actual damages is challenging. For example, a construction contract might specify liquidated damages for project delays.
  • Nominal damages: For little, insignificant violations that cause the performing party inconvenience, nominal damages are awarded.
  • Punitive damages: Sum of money paid to the violating party as retaliation for serious or destructive actions. They are rarely seen in contract situations.

Specific Performance

In cases where the subject of the contract is unique, or no amount of money can adequately compensate the non-breaching party, a court may order specific performance. This compels the breaching party to fulfill the contract's terms.

Cancellation and Restitution

If a contract is irreparably breached, either party can cancel it and request rescission from the court. Rescission discharges all remaining obligations between the parties. If the non-breaching party has benefited the breaching party, restitution may be requested to return them to their pre-contractual position.

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