What is Considered a Material Breach of Contract?
This article defines and describes what is considered a material breach of contract. Orange County business attorneys provide legal representation in contract negotiation and in contract law disputes. There are many circumstances in which one party to a contract is accused of not living up to his part of the agreement. The individual or company who fails to comply with contractual obligations can be sued in court and the court may determine an appropriate remedy if a breach of contract is found.
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP provides representation to a non-breaching party in taking legal action when they believe the other contracting party has failed to fulfill obligations.
We also provide representation to any individual or business who has been accused of breaching a contract. Allegations of a breach of contract can be a big deal and it is important for both parties involved in a contract dispute to determine whether the alleged breach would constitute a material breach of contract or not.
What is a Material Breach of Contract?
According to California Civil Jury Instructions 308, a plaintiff has a burden of proving a defendant breached a contract in order for the plaintiff to recover damages arising from the breach. To recover damages, the plaintiff must show the plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract, the plaintiff fulfilled his obligations under the contract, that all conditions for performance of the contract were met or excused, and that the defendant failed to fulfill his contractual requirements.
When a plaintiff is able to successfully prove this, the plaintiff can show the defendant committed a breach – but this does not mean the breach was necessarily a material one. The question of whether the breach was material must be determined on a case-by-case basis when evaluating the specific facts of the defendant’s failure to perform in accordance with contractual requirements.
A material breach is a breach that gets to the contract’s heart. The entire purpose of the contract would be undermined if a material breach occurred, and the parties to the contract would not get the benefit of the bargained-for exchange. A non-material breach, on the other hand, is a failure to comply with a peripheral contract term or with a minor contractual obligation. The essence of the contract remains in tact, even if a non-material breach has occurred.
For example, if you contracted to have a house built, a material breach would involve the contractor not building the house at all. A non-material breach could involve the contractor building the entire house, but painting one of the rooms the wrong color that is different from what was called for in the building contract. In the case of the material breach, the party buying the house got nothing at all. In the case of the non-material breach, the party buying the house was damaged in a minor way– he must pay to repaint – but the buyer got the vast majority of what he contracted for and the purpose of the contract was fulfilled when the house was built.
If a plaintiff proves the defendant committed a material breach related to any one aspect of the contract, this typically means that the defendant will be considered to be in breach of the entire contract.
Getting Help from Orange County Business Attorneys
Orange County business attorneys at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide help to any individual or business who has entered into a contract and who believes that contract has been breached. When you sign a contract, you have the right to expect that the other party will comply with contractual terms and will live up to contractual obligations. If the other party fails in this, you deserve to be made whole for your damages. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP helps you to show a material breach happened and can help you to prove the extent of your loss so you can be compensated in full for damages.
If you are a party to a contract who is accused of a breach, you could face significant consequences, especially financial consequences if you must make the plaintiff whole by repaying the plaintiff for losses. You don’t want to just accept accusations against you that you committed a material breach. You should reach out to Brown & Charbonneau, LLP today to find out how we can defend you against claims you failed to comply with a contract you signed.
To find out more about how our legal team can help you with all aspects of a breach of contract claim, just give us a call at 714-505-3000 or contact us online at any time.