Breach of contract disputes are not uncommon in the business world, but they can at times threaten the stability of a business, so it is essential to have them handled correctly. The breach of contract attorneys at Scaffidi & Associates are experienced in resolving such business disputes through skilled negotiation or, if necessary, through litigation. More than that, they have the know-how to prevent many breach of contract disputes by making sure that the original contracts are carefully crafted. Every contract we draft delineates the specific rights and responsibilities of both parties, and how such responsibilities will be enforced. Our attorneys are well aware that written contracts must be clear, detailed, and comprehensive.
What is a business contract?
Simply put, a business contract is a legally binding promise. In order to be valid, a business contract must consist of an offer, an acceptance of the offer, and a consideration (each party must give and receive some benefit from the contract). Because most breaches of contract result from ill-crafted documents, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable contract attorney craft your business contract to ensure that your interests are well-protected and that the contract is fully enforceable under New York law.
The Elements of Breach of Contract in New York
There are four basic elements needed as a cause of action for breach of contract in New York:
- Formation of a contract between plaintiff and defendant
- Performance by the plaintiff
- Failure to perform the terms of the contract by the defendant
- Resulting damage to the plaintiff’s business or interests from the defendant’s failure to perform
Only if these four elements are met can the plaintiff sue the defendant.
What does a breach of contract consist of?
Breach of contract occurs when one of the parties does not meet contractual obligations by, for example:
- Failing to provide goods or services
- Failing to make payments promptly
- Failing to meet deadlines
- Misinterpreting the contract’s terms and conditions
If one party has met their contractual obligations and the other has not, there is a breach of contract. Damages can only be recovered, however, if the breach is “material.” A material breach is one substantial enough to defeat the purpose of the contract. This is why the wording of the contract is so important and that deadlines should be specific rather than open to interpretation (e.g. “in a reasonable period of time”).
Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract Claims
In New York State, the statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract claim is 6 years. While this may seem like a long time, it should be remembered that this means 6 years from the date the offense was committed, not from the date it was discovered. It is always best to contact an experienced breach of contract attorney as soon as you become aware of the problem and of the fact that it is harming your business.
What damages can be recovered if you win a New York breach of contract lawsuit?
Damages awarded in a breach of contract lawsuit are intended to return the claimant to the position the claimant would have been in if the other party had met the original contractual obligations.
There are five basic remedies for breach of contract: money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. The most common remedy is a monetary award of damages given as compensation for financial losses resulting from the breach. In most cases, it is possible to keep the agreement intact and resolve the breach with a “cure.” Sometimes, however, it is too late to fix the problem and the best tactic is for us to terminate the contract (a procedure known as rescission), returning both parties, insofar as it is possible, to the position they occupied before they entered into the contract.
At Scaffidi & Associates, our highly capable breach of contract attorneys, in addition to using strategies that have been successful in past cases, are always coming up with innovative methods to assist you in winning your case. We often make use of expert witnesses to bolster the accuracy of our calculations of damages.
When it is beneficial, our attorneys will work hard to negotiate a settlement with the other party in order to avoid a lawsuit, thus saving you time and money.
Negotiated settlements often have the added advantage of preserving the business relationship. If the other party is not cooperative, however, Scaffidi & Associates is fully prepared to fight vigorously for your rights in a court of law. You can reach us by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.