Contract Disputes

San Mateo County Contract Dispute Attorneys

Most businesses and organizations enter into contracts to secure goods or services they need to operate their business. Unfortunately, not all business partners keep their word, so cases of breach of contract are common in business transactions. A breach of contract can result from several actions and omissions by the parties or even a poorly structured contract. If a business partner breached contract terms, the law office of Katherine Moore can assist with contract dispute litigation. 

Breach of Contract

Contract disputes occur when the parties break the terms of the contract or contest some of the provisions in the contract. A breach prevents the contract from being fulfilled or defeats its original intent. Breaches can be material or non-material. Some of the situations that can lead to contract disputes include: 
•    wrongful accusations of a breach of contract
•    one of the parties seeks a legal interpretation of the terms
•    one party argues that some terms are legally unenforceable
•    claims that the contract failed to cover some unforeseen circumstances 
•    disputes over the quality and timeliness of fulfillment
•    scope of performance under license agreements
•    copyright or patent infringement  

The Process of Contract Dispute Litigation

Contract disputes fall under civil law, meaning that the aggrieved party has the prerogative to claim damages from the other party. Typically, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof and has to convince the mediators or the court that there was a breach of contract. The mediators or the court looks at the elements of the contract when assessing the validity of the claims.

The Offer

The offer is the specific payment, service, or product one party proposes to provide in exchange for what they receive from the other party. The offer is the beginning of the negotiation process and is not binding until an agreement is reached. 

The Acceptance

If the other party accepts the initial offer, it becomes a contract. But if they wish to change the terms, they make a counteroffer, and haggling may ensue until there is a mutual agreement. The mutual agreement is legally called ‘the acceptance’ and forms the basis of the contract.

Consideration

The consideration is the benefit each party is supposed to get from the contract. It is a commitment to do an action such as provide services for a specific amount of money. Any contract that lacks consideration is unenforceable by the court. 

Legal Capacity

All parties must have the legal capacity to enter into a contract. For instance, the negotiating party must have the legal authority to enter into a contract on behalf of the organization. In complex cases, capacity is determined by the court. Some of the reasons why a party may lack legal capacity include:
•    lack of legal residency in the state
•    mental impairment
•    making an agreement under duress 
•    fraudulent misrepresentation

Mutual Obligations

These are the commitments that all the parties are bound to under the contract terms. They can be outlined in the clauses and other provisions of the contract. 

Documentation

While not all details of a contract can be written, the most important clauses should be spelled out in writing. Documenting the letter and terms of the contract makes it easier to enforce. 

Special Provisions

Most business contracts have a term that outlines how different scenarios should be handled in case of complications or disputes. 

Jurisdiction clauses: jurisdiction clauses state that breach of contract disputes should be resolved in a particular jurisdiction such as country, state, or county. This can complicate dispute resolution as the plaintiff has to seek legal counsel in the specified jurisdiction.

Arbitration clauses: an arbitration clause obliges all the parties to resolve breach of contract disputes through arbitration. The assumption is that arbitration saves money and time, but sometimes it can greatly limit the damages the aggrieved party gets. 

Contract Dispute Resolution 

Resolution involves reviewing the contract to determine if the parties breached the terms or failed to deliver on their commitments. Business contracts are often complex with technical legal, and industry terms that need the interpretation of an expert. Some of the issues considered during litigation include:
•    establishing the existence of a valid contract
•    clarifying the meaning and intent of the contract terms
•    determining if there is a breach of contract terms 
•    evaluating the legality and enforceability of the terms determining the clauses or provisions that have been breached 
•    assessing the damages incurred by the aggrieved party 
•    awarding damages such as specific performance or restitution 

Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

Arbitration

Arbitration involves the disputing parties selecting a panel of arbitrators to negotiate an amicable solution. The decision is legally binding, meaning that all parties are obliged to comply. 

Mediation

Mediation involves selecting a neutral third party to help the parties resolve the dispute. The mediator does not impose a solution and only intervenes where necessary. 

Rent-A-Judge Program

This a variant of arbitration where the disputing parties choose a retired judge to hear the case and make a decision. The program follows normal court processes, and the decision has legal status in the respective court. 

Litigation in Court

Litigation involves filing a complaint in civil court. The defendant must be served with the suit and have it delivered in a legally appropriate manner. The defendant has 30 days to file a claim or counterclaim. After the response, hearings proceed so that the court can assess the facts and make a fair decision. 

Why You Should Work with Experienced Contract Litigators

You should hire experienced contract attorneys when resolving contract disputes because they give you the best chance of getting a fair deal. An experienced lawyer will assess your case and consider the different dispute resolution mechanisms to determine the most appropriate option. If they are not satisfied with the defendant’s offer, they will advise you to go to court to enforce the contract terms and ensure that you get adequate recovery to compensate for the damages incurred. 

The law office of Katherine Moore provides pragmatic legal counsel to businesses seeking effective contract dispute litigation in Redwood City, Ca. Our attorneys have a track record of winning contract litigation disputes for both small businesses and large corporations. We handle a wide range of contract disputes, including construction contracts, sale of goods contracts, franchising contracts, commercial leases, employment contracts, and licensing contracts. Call us at 650-399-0752 or fill our online form