What is Considered a Material Breach of Contract?

Our skilled San Diego business litigation lawyers at Gehres Law Group, P.C. can provide representation in breach of contract claims. Contracts are agreements created between private parties, such as between individuals and businesses or between two business entities. A valid contract creates rights and obligations between the parties to the contract, and provides various remedies when contractual obligations are breached, either expressly or by default based on applicable laws. All parties to a contract must comply with the written terms of the agreement and can face civil action if they fail to perform, unless they have a legally valid defense. San Diego business lawyer

There are a number of remedies available to a party to a contract in the event of a breach. The remedies that may be successfully pursued by a plaintiff in a breach of contract case will vary depending upon whether the breach is a material one or not, so those involved in contract proceedings should consult with the civil litigation lawyers at Gehres Law Group, P.C. as soon as possible to find out what type of breach likely occurred and what kinds of legal action they can pursue.

What is Considered a Material Breach of Contract

California law sets forth the essential factual elements of a breach of contract claim in California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) section 303. According to the relevant jury instruction, a plaintiff can prevail in a breach of contract claim by proving:

  • The plaintiff and defendant entered into a legally valid contract.
  • The plaintiff fulfilled all contractual obligations or was excused from fulfilling said obligations.
  • The specific conditions in the contract, if any, required for the defendant to perform his part of the contract were either excused or had occurred.
  • The defendant failed to fulfill some obligation that the contract required or the defendant did something that was prohibited in the contract.
  • The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the failure.

When the plaintiff proves these elements of a breach of contract claim, the plaintiff could obtain monetary damages for failure to perform if the plaintiff can prove actual financial loss. The plaintiff could also demand other remedies, such as specific performance, which would involve the court ordering the defendant to fulfill his obligations under the contract.

While a breach of contract claim can arise from both a material and a non-material breach, the parties to a contract also have additional remedies available in the event of a material breach. For example, if there is a material breach of contract by one party, the other party can be discharged from his or her duty to perform. This makes it important to understand whether a breach was a material one or not.

The question of whether a breach is material or not is a question that must be considered in each case, given the unique facts and circumstances of that particular claim. The general rule is that an assessment of whether a breach is a material breach or not is made on the basis of how important and serious the breach was and is made on the basis of whether it is likely that the party injured by the breach has a low or high probability of the breaching party substantially performing the contract. If the breach goes to the heart of the contract and affects the very thing for which the parties created and entered into the contract, then the breach will typically be considered a material breach.

In Brown v Grimes, the California court made clear that a material breach of any part of a contract could constitute a material breach of the contract in full.

Getting Help from San Diego Business Lawyers

San Diego business lawyers at Gehres Law Group, P.C. can offer comprehensive, personalized advice on breach of contract claims and on all legal issues arising under contract law. Whether you require assistance in understanding your rights and obligations in a contract, or are suing or being sued for a failure to perform, our business lawyers can provide the advice and advocacy you need to protect your interests. To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you, give us a call at 858-964-2314 or contact us online to today.

By | 2018-01-24T12:06:10-08:00 September 11th, 2017|Contract law|Comments Off on What is Considered a Material Breach of Contract?