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The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
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We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
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Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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About

A breach of contract is a failure to perform the terms of a contract. This can be a breach of a written or verbal contract. Solicitors can help you to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred, what amount of compensation might be available to you and how to proceed.Next steps

How much does help with Breach of Contract cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Breach of Contract is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £112-£149 but in some cases it could cost as much as £186.

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Contracts form the backbone of countless transactions, whether in business or personal dealings. But when one party fails to uphold their end of the agreement, it can lead to significant disruptions, financial losses, and stress.

Moreover, understanding the legal ins and outs of contract law, and identifying the appropriate remedies following a breach of contract, can be overwhelming without professional guidance.

At Lawhive, our experienced network of litigation lawyers are experts in contract law. They can provide clear, practical advice tailored to your situation through our user-friendly online platfrom for affordable fixed fees.

From initial consultation and assessment of your claim to negotiation, mediation, or litigation, we offer a full range of legal services to resolve your breach of contract dispute.

Contact us today to speak with our experienced Legal Assessment Team and get a free, no-obligation quote for the services of a specialist breach of contract lawyer.

What is a breach of contract?

A breach of contract happens when one party fails to fulfill their obligation under a legally binding agreement without a legitimate legal excuse.

This can apply to both written and verbal contracts, providing they include the elements that make up a valid contract. That is:

  • One party makes a clear and definite offer to do something or refrain from doing something.

  • The other party accepts the offer in its entirety.

  • There is an exchange of value, such as money, services, or goods.

  • Both parties intend to enter into a legally binding agreement.

  • Both parties have the legal capacity to enter into the contract.

  • The contract’s purpose and terms must be legal.

4 types of breach of contract

There are 4 types of breach of contract. These are:

Minor (Partial) Breach

A minor breach, also known as a partial breach, happens when one party fails to perform a small part of their contractual obligations.

This type of breach doesn't usually entitle the non-breaching party to terminate the contract, but they can still seek damages for any losses incurred.

Example:

A small business that manufactures bespoke furniture enters into a contract with a local supplier to deliver a specific type of high-quality wood. The contract says that the supplier will deliver 100 planks of oak wood by the first of every month, and each delivery must include a certificate of authenticity to verify the quality of the wood.

In one month, the supplier delivers the full 100 planks of wood on time but fails to include the certificate of authenticity.

This would be considered a minor, or partial, breach of contract because the main purpose of the contract (the delivery of the oak wood) has been fulfilled. The missing certificate, while important, does not fundamentally undermine the contract's primary objective.

Material Breach

A material breach of contract is more severe and happens when one party fails to perform a significant part of the contract, rendering the agreement's core purpose unmet.

The non-breaching party may seek damages and be relieved of their contractual obligations.

Example:

John enters into a contract with ABC Builders Ltd. to renovate his kitchen. The contract specifies the completion date as 31st March and the scope of work includes new flooring, cabinets, countertops, and appliances.

However, by 1st June, the kitchen is still incomplete, with significant work remaining on the flooring and cabinets. Further, on inspection John discovers that the countertops are chipped.

In this example, ABC Builders Ltd's failure to complete the work on time, and the poor quality of the completed work constitutes a material breach of contract.

This breach deprives John of the primary benefits he expected from the contract—a fully renovated, functional, and high-quality kitchen within the agreed timeframe.

Fundamental (Repudiatory) Breach

A fundamental breach, or repudiatory breach of contract, happens when one party's actions (or lack thereof) are so severe that they undermine the entire contract.

Fundamental breaches entitle the non-breaching party to terminate the contract and claim damages because the breach undermines the entire contract's purpose.

Example:

XYZ Ltd enters into a commercial lease agreement with ABC Properties Ltd for office space. The key terms of the lease are:

  • Lease Term: 5 years

  • Rent: £50,000 per year, payable quarterly

  • Permitted Use: Office space for professional serveice

  • Maintenance Responsibilities: XYZ Ltd is responsible for routine maintenance, while ABC Properties Ltd is responsible for structural repairs and maintaining the building's exterior.

Six months into the lease, the roof begins to leak significantly. XYZ Ltd notifies ABC Properties Ltd of the issue, as per the contract. However, despite repeated notifications and requests, ABC Properties Ltd fails to repair the roof for several months. The leak causes substantial damage to XYZ Ltd equipment and disrupts their business operations, making the space virtually unusable.

Separately, ABC Properties Ltd allows another tenant to conduct noisy and disruptive activities in the adjacent office space, despite the lease specifying that the premises are for professional services only. This activity further disrupts XYZ Ltd's business and violates the terms of the lease regarding permitted use.

In this scenario, ABC Properties Ltd’s failure to perform essential structural repairs and permitting unauthorised use of the adjacent property constitutes a repudiatory breach of the lease agreement. This breach fundamentally undermines the purpose of the lease and XYZ Ltd's ability to use the office space as intended.

Anticipatory Breach

An anticipatory breach happens when one party says in advance that they will not be fulfilling their contractual obligations. This can be through explicit communication or actions that clearly show they will not perform as agreed.

The non-breaching party can treat the contract as breached, rather than waiting for the breach to happen, and seek remedies immediately.

Example:

ABC Manufacturing Ltd enters into a contract with XYZ Retail Ltd to supply 1,000 units of a specific product by 30th September.

On 15th August, ABC Manufacturing Ltd tells XYZ Retail Ltd that they won't be able to deliver the 1,000 units by the September 30th deadline due to unforeseen production issues. They explicitly state that they will not be able to meet the contract’s requirements and suggest renegotiating the terms or extending the deadline.

However, XYZ Retail Ltd has already planned a major marketing campaign and has committed to customers based on the expected delivery of these products.

The inability of ABC Manufacturing Ltd to deliver on time will cause significant financial and reputational damage to XYZ Retail Ltd.

In this scenario, ABC Manufacturing Ltd’s notification that they will not fulfill the contract by the agreed-upon delivery date constitutes an anticipatory breach of contract.

XYZ Retail Ltd. can act immediately rather than wait until the delivery date has passed.

What is the most common breach of contract?

The most common breach of contract is failure to pay. That is when one party does not make the agreed payments as stipulated in the contracts. This can happen in various contexts, including commercial transactions, service agreements, employment contracts, and loan agreements.

Other common breaches of a contract include:

  • Failure to deliver goods or services.

  • Goods or services don't meet the quality standards or specifications outlined in the contract.

  • A party fails to perform its contractual obligations entirely.

  • A party performs their contractual obligations, but not within the agreed timeframe.

  • Failure to maintain confidentiality.

  • Violation of non-compete clauses.

  • Goods or services provided do not conform to the terms of the warranty.

  • Misrepresentation or fraud.

  • Breach of implied terms.

What remedies are available for a breach of contract?

When a breach of contract happens, the appropriate remedy depends on the nature and severity of the breach and the specific circumstances of the case.

Primary remedies available for a breach of contract include:

Damages

Damages are the most common remedy for a breach of contract. They are financial compensation awarded to the non-breaching party to cover the losses incurred.

Types of damages

  • Compensatory damages: These aim to put the non-breaching party in the position they would have been in if the contract had been performed as agreed. They cover direct losses and costs resulting from the breach.

  • Consequential damages: Also known as special damages, these cover indirect and foreseeable losses caused by the breach. For example, if the breach results in lost business opportunities or additional expenses.

  • Liquidated damages: These are pre-determined damages specified in the contract itself. They are enforceable if they are a genuine pre-estimate of the loss likely to be suffered and not a penalty.

  • Nominal damages: These are awarded when a breach has occurred, but the non-breaching party has not suffered any significant financial loss. They recognise a breach occurred but do not provide substantial compensation.

  • Punitive damages: These are rare in contract law and are intended to punish the breaching party for particularly egregious behavior. They are more common in tort cases.

Specific performance

Specific performance is an equitable remedy where the court orders the breaching party to perform their contractual obligations. This remedy is typically used when damages are insufficient to remedy the breach, such as in contracts involving unique items or property.

Injunction

An injunction is a court order that either compels a party to do something or stops them from doing something. There are two main types of injunctions:

  1. Prohibitory injunctions: Prevents the breaching party from continuing an action that breaches the contract.

  2. Mandatory injunctions: Requires the breaching party to take a specific action to comply with the contract.

Rescission

Rescission is an equitable remedy that cancels the contract and restores both parties to their positions before the contract was made.

It is typically used when there has been a fundamental breach, misrepresentation, or duress.

Restitution

Restitution aims to return the non-breaching party to the position they were in before the contract was made. This often involves returning any benefits or payments received under the contract.

It is based on the principle of preventing unjust enrichment.

Reformation

Reformation is an equitable remedy that allows the court to rewrite the contract to reflect the true intentions of the parties.

This remedy is used when the contract, as written, does not accurately reflect what the parties agreed on due to a mistake or misrepresentation.

Declaratory relief

A declaratory judgement is a court order that determines the rights and obligations of the parties under the contract without awarding damages or ordering specific performance. It clarifies the legal position of the parties.

If you are looking to seek remedies for breach of contract, a litigation solicitor can help you understand your options and pursue the most suitable action to address the breach.

At Lawhive, our experienced network of solicitors is here to provide expert guidance and support online for affordable fixed fees.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and fixed fee quote for the services of a specialist lawyer.

What should I do if I suspect a breach of contract?

If you suspect that a breach of contract has occurred, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Review the contract and identify which obligations or terms you believe have been breached.

  2. Gather and document all relevant evidence that supports your suspicion of a breach.

  3. Assess the impact of the breach on your business or personal interests.

  4. Take reasonable steps to mitigate any further losses.

  5. Contact the other party to discuss the suspected breach. If direct communication does not resolve the issue, send a written. notice to the other party outlining the breach and requesting a resolution.

  6. Seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in contract law.

  7. Send a letter before action.

  8. File a claim in court.

A solicitor can help you review the contract, prepare the necessary documentation, and guide you through the legal process.

Before filing a claim in court, you might consider alternative dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration. Often, these approaches can be more cost-effective and quicker than litigation.

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Can a breach of contract be resolved without going to court?

A breach of contract can often be resolved without going to court. Resolving disputes out of court is generally preferred as it can save time, reduce costs, and preserve relationships.

There are several ways to resolve a breach of contract without resorting to litigation including:

  • Reaching a settlement agreement

  • Mediation

  • Arbitration

  • Conciliation

  • Expert determination

Out-of-court resolutions are generally less expensive than court proceedings, saving both parties legal fees and court costs.

What is the difference between a material breach and a minor breach of contract?

A material breach is a serious contract violation that substantially undermines the contract's purpose and deprives the non-breaching party of the benefit they reasonably expected to receive.

A minor breach is a partial or less significant contract violation that does not substantially deprive the non-breaching party of the benefits of the contract.

Can I terminate a contract for any breach?

You can't terminate a contract for a minor breach, but you can seek remedies such as damages to compensate for the specific breach.

You can terminate a contract if:

  • The breach fundamentally undermines the contract's purpose.

  • One party indicates, either through words or actions, that they will not fulfill their contractual obligations in the future.

  • A breach deprives you of the essential benefit of the agreement.

  • One party breaches a condition of the contract that justifies termination.

If you're unsure whether you can terminate a contract based on a breach, speak with a solicitor to get professional advice before taking action. They can help you understand your legal position and the potential consequences of the termination.

This is important because, if you terminate a contract for a breach but don't have the legal right to do so, this can be seen as a breach of contract in itself, leading to potential claims from the other party.

How can I minimise the risk of breach of contract?

To minimise the risk of a breach of contract and protect your interests you should:

  1. Make sure the contract includes detailed and specific terms regarding obligations, rights, and responsibilities.

  2. Define key terms and include precise descriptions of deliverables, timelines, and payment terms.

  3. Have a solicitor review the contract to ensure it is legally sound.

  4. Include key clauses like termination, dispute resolution, force majeure, and confidentiality clauses.

  5. Maintain regular communication and keep written records of all communications.

  6. Monitor performance and schedule periodic reviews to assess compliance with contract terms.

  7. Establish a formal process for handling changes to the contract.

If you need assistance with contract drafting, review, or management, our experienced network of solicitors is here to help you be sure that your agreements are robust and enforceable.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and quote.

How much can I claim for breach of contract?

The amount you can claim for breach of contract depends on the nature and severity of the breach, the terms of the contract, and the losses you have incurred as a result.

For example, if a supplier fails to deliver goods worth £50,000, resulting in a loss of £20,000 in sales and £5,000 in additional costs to obtain replacement goods, you could claim £50,000 for the direct loss, £20,000 for lost sales (consequential damages), and £5,000 for additional costs, totaling £75,000.

Consulting with a solicitor can help you accurately assess your losses and determine the appropriate amount to claim.

Can I claim damages for non-financial losses in a breach of contract?

Damages for breach of contract are primarily intended to compensate for financial losses. However, there are certain circumstances where non-financial losses may also be considered.

Non-financial losses, also known as non-pecuniary losses, refer to damages that do not have a direct monetary value. These can include:

These circumstances often involve contracts for pleasure, relaxation, or peace of mind, contracts with an implied duty of care, or employment contracts. For example, If a hospital breaches a contract for medical treatment, leading to significant pain and suffering due to medical negligence or an employer breaches an employment contract in a manner that causes significant damage to an employee’s reputation or mental well-being.

To successfully claim non-financial damages, the losses must be:

  1. Reasonably foreseeable at the time the contract was made; and

  2. Directly caused by the breach; and

  3. Supported by evidence.

What happens if both parties breach a contract?

If both parties breach a contract at the same time or in a similar way this is known as a concurrent breach.

If one party breaches the contract first, and the other party responds with a subsequent breach, this is known as a sequential breach.

Both situations require a detailed legal analysis to determine the rights and obligations of each party.

If the matter progresses to litigation, courts may apply the doctrine of causation to decide which party's breach caused the most significant harm or disruption to the contract or consider the concept of contributory fault, where both parties are found to have contributed to the breach.

As such, possible outcomes in this situation may include:

  • Damages

  • Rescission of the contract

  • Specific performance

  • Reformation of the contract to address the breaches and modify the terms

How to defend a breach of contract claim

If you are accused of breaching a contract, there are several defenses you can raise to challenge the claim. Here are some common defenses to a breach of contract claim:

  1. Argue that you have fulfilled all contractual obligations and no breach occurred.

  2. Claim that no valid contract existed or contract terms were too vague to be enforceable.

  3. Argue that the contract is void due to illegality, lack of capacity, misrepresentation, or undue influence.

  4. Claim that it was impossible or impracticable to perform the contractual obligations due to unforeseen events beyond your control.

  5. Argue that the other party breached the contract first.

  6. Argue that the other party failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate their losses.

A solicitor can help you defend against a breach of contract claim.

At Lawhive, our experienced network of solicitors is here to provide expert guidance and support.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and quote for the services of a specialist lawyer.

Get help with breach of contract from Lawhive

At Lawhive, we understand the challenges you face when a contract goes wrong. Whether it's a minor breach causing inconvenience or a material breach impacting your business operations, navigating the complexities of contract law requires expertise and precision.

Our unique blend of technology and legal expertise allows us to provide accessible legal services at a fraction of the cost of traditional high-street firms. We’re here to help you every step of the way, from initial consultation and assessment to negotiation, mediation, or litigation.

Don't let a breach of contract disrupt your life or business any longer. ur network of experienced litigation lawyers specialises in contract law, providing you with clear, practical advice tailored to your specific situation.

Contact us today to speak with our experienced Legal Assessment Team and get a free, no-obligation quote for the services of a specialist breach of contract lawyer.

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