When two parties agree to a contract and one party either does not pay or perform duties, the wronged party often seeks to enforce the contract. Some people are content to receive damages, but others hope the other party will be forced to fulfill their part of the deal.
This all depends on whether the contract is enforceable in the first place. Courts will evaluate whether there was a valid contract, meaning a documentable offer and acceptance of terms. This also includes a series of bargained promises and prices that contains definite terms that can be enforced. Otherwise, you likely have no cause of action.
However, defenses to enforcement can render a contract void. If you find yourself in a dispute over an agreed-upon contract, you will have a complex legal maze to navigate. That is why you need to retain knowledgeable legal counsel.
If it can be shown that there was an agreement that included an exchange of value, you likely have an enforceable contract. The only time a contract is not enforced is if there is an indication of unfairness. Those allegations arise in defenses.
Defendants can claim a lack of capacity to consent to a contract, undue influence, duress, misrepresentation, mistake and unconscionability to argue that a contract is not enforceable. All these defenses suggest that there was bad dealing during the course of negotiations that put one party at a disadvantage. If the court finds that was the case, it will not grant relief to the plaintiff.
As your attorneys, we will review circumstances thoroughly to see if any of these defenses have merit. In most contract cases, it is normally admitted that a contract is valid. Normally the discussion centers on damages.
Damages and Specific Performance
Remedies for breach of contract include compensatory, general, and special damages. Compensatory damages seek to reimburse a party for the loss resulting from the breach. General damages include those expenses directly and indirectly incurred by the wronged party and special damages covers special circumstances and other unpredictable elements.
Only in the most grievous situations are punitive damages awarded. That is frequently limited to consumer transactions where the buyer is at a disadvantage.
Clients sometimes wish the court to force the other party to fulfill their end of the bargain. However, this remedy—specific performance—is limited to real estate transactions. You are most likely to collect monetary damages when you see contract enforcement.
John J. Zidziunas & Associates offers negotiation and litigation experience for matters involving breach of contract. We are available to review the contract, determine damages or start an action for specific performance if your transaction involved real estate. Contact us for a free telephone consultation at (973) 509-8500 to get answers you need to set your situation right.