Contracts are legally binding documents drawn up with the intention of avoiding future disputes.
However should a disagreement arise, the contract is there to detail the terms of the arrangement and clarify what everyone involved agreed to from the start.
When you sign a contract, you do so intending for the contract and its terms to be honoured by all parties. When this doesn’t happen, disputes tend to arise.
Worried about a contract dispute? Find Out Where You Stand. Call us today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice
Our expert business dispute resolution team have plenty of experience of contract disputes –and a strong a record of resolving disputes for businesses both small and large.
The head of our dispute resolution team, David Patterson, is a member of the Commercial Litigation Association (CLA) – the UK’s sole group of specialist business dispute solicitors.
Common contract disputes
Breaches of contract happen in all walks of life, be it a business contract between you and another company, a contract with a builder who’s been working on your home, a shareholder dispute with a business partner, an employment agreement at work or any other form of contract which you feel has been breached.
Some of the most common types of contract disputes include:
• Failure to supply goods or services
• Breach of employment contract, either by an employee or employer
• Non-compliance with restrictive covenants, non-disclosure and privacy agreements
• Violation of directors’ service agreements
• Infringement of intellectual property rights and licensing agreements
Does every contract need to be in writing?
In many situations, there doesn’t need to be an explicitly written contract in place. particularly where both parties have acted in reliance of any agreement, unwritten and oral contracts can be enforceable.
Click here to read Can an unsigned contract can be enforced?
We don’t have a signed contract – could law help us out?
In certain circumstances, yes.
For example, when you buy goods or services from a company as a consumer, you’re covered by statutory laws which are deemed to be unwritten contracts by which all parties must stick to.
One such law is the Sale of Goods Act, which sets out that any product provided to a consumer by a business should be;
1. fit for purpose,
2. of reasonable quality and
3. last a reasonable amount of time.
The Sale of Goods Act overalls any guarantees offered by the company – so a company trying to fob you off by stating that your guarantee has expired could still be flouting the Sale of Goods Act.
How does the law approach my contract breach?
Where a written contract has been created between two parties, determining a breach of its terms can be more difficult as it’s unlikely an exact precedent will have been set with regards to that specific contract in the same way as it will have been with statute like the Sale of Goods Act.
In this instance, getting the right specialist legal advice is usually essential in deciding whether or not there has been a breach of contract.
Are all contract breaches straightforward?
Many areas of contract law are quite black and white and seem very straightforward.
For example, when ordering goods or services from a company which have not been delivered or supplied, the law is very clear. Your agreement with the company is clearly covered by law, and the non-delivery of the goods or services easily proved – and will probably be very difficult for the company to dispute.
This doesn’t mean getting your money back is always straightforward, though. Even a court order against the supplier company only means they have been told to pay the money back. If they refuse to do so, you will have to try to have that judgment enforced by a bailiff or sheriff. Having the right experienced solicitor on your side helps enormously.
However, other areas of contract law can be far less well defined and may need an expert legal eye to get to the bottom of the dispute.
For example, cases concerning intellectual property rights tend to be extremely complicated – huge disputes can easily arise and can take years to resolve.
My contract dispute – what kind of compensation can I recover?
The outcome of a breach of contract dispute, if a breach is proved, tends to be financial compensation for the aggrieved party, paid by the party who breached the contract.
This tends to be determined by four different types of loss:
• Expectation loss — This covers damage caused by non-performance, late performance or defective performance, and usually relates to the gain or benefit the claimant would have had if the contract had not been breached.
• Reliance loss — Covering expenses incurred by the claimant which came about through relying on the contract which was not adhered to- causing expenses to be wasted.
• Performance loss — Reflected by performance which was expected by the contract but not delivered.
• Restitutionary interests — Entitling the claimant to recover profits made by the party which breached the contract, particularly with regards to the misuse or mistreatment of confidential information.
In some cases, damages are easily measured.
For example, in a case where a consumer has bought an item which was not delivered, the damages amount to the value paid by the consumer for those goods. However, if the item was a vital part for a car, which was not delivered and in turn meant the customer had to pay for taxi journeys or train tickets to get to work in the meantime, there may be a case for the claimant to recover those costs, too.
The law can get even more complicated with business to business contracts, service contracts and other agreements which are not covered by statutory law.
My contract dispute – do I really need a solicitor?
Even the most seemingly simple of contract disputes can actually be very complicated and will almost always require good legal representation to defend your interests.
If you are currently involved in a dispute over a breach of contract or perceived breach of contract, our team of specialist commercial litigation solicitors can help to ensure that you get the compensation you are due.
After all, if you’ve entered into a contract with the best of intentions, it can be extremely distressing to find that the other party has not kept to the rules.
Contract disputes and alternative dispute resolution
In most cases, it is best to try and avoid going to court, particularly if the contract is commercially sensitive or regards an existing employee/employer relationship
Besides the importance of maintaining good relations, it is always best to try exhaust all the other options before going to court.
Increasingly, judges do not look favourably on those who haven’t made reasonable efforts to sort the issue outside of court.
Negotiation and, if necessary, mediation can be highly successful – and are usually much much quicker not to mention cheaper than going to court.
Need The Right Legal Advice With a Difficult Contract Dispute? Call Us Now
To discuss your case, call our specialist team of contract dispute lawyers today, and we’ll see what we can do to help defend your interests and ensure that you receive what you are due.
• Call our our team of specialist dispute team today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or Salisbury [01722 ] 422300 OR
• E-mail us using the online enquiry form below: