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A primer for plaintiffs, defendants in breach of contract cases

You've entered into a contract with another party, and that party doesn't seem to be following the terms. How can you tell if that individual or organization is in breach of contract?

In general, for the terms of a contract to have been broken, these four conditions must exist:

  1. The contract must have all of the essential elements that make it valid.
  2. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant didn't fulfill parts of the contract.
  3. The plaintiff must have done what was required on their end.
  4. The defendant must have been notified of the alleged breach before a lawsuit is filed. Doing so in writing is best because it creates a paper trail.

If you think you have a breach of contract case, it's best to contact an attorney to see if a lawsuit is appropriate in your situation. If you've been sued, an attorney also can assist you with your defense.

There are certain defenses available for parties being sued. They include:

  1. Fraud. A defendant can claim the contract isn't valid because the plaintiff intentionally didn't disclose a vital piece of information or didn't properly represent all the facts.
  2. Duress or undue influence. A defendant might believe the plaintiff forced the other party into signing the contract and it wasn't done by both parties' free will.
  3. Both parties made an error when signing the contract.
  4. The statute of limitations has expired.

If you are a party to a breach of contract lawsuit – either as a plaintiff or as a defendant, an experienced attorney can assist you with your case.

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