Contract disputes are frustrating, especially when you have gone through the hard work of negotiating and executing a detailed written agreement.
When a calm conversation or a proposed business solution fails to achieve common ground, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to help resolve the dispute. An experienced attorney can assist in negotiating a resolution to the contract dispute, and, if necessary, guide you through the complexities of litigation.
What is a Contract Dispute?
Before we discuss what types of lawyers manage contract disputes and business litigation, it is important to understand the nature of contract disputes.
A contract dispute occurs when two or more parties disagree on the terms, definitions, commitments, or conditions contained within any type of contract. These contracts can take many different forms, including non-compete agreements, vendor agreements, lease agreements, franchise agreements, construction contracts, service agreements, and more.
In most cases, a dispute arises because one party is believed to have breached the contract by failing to abide by the agreed upon terms, such as the timely delivery of goods or services, the failure to deliver the anticipated quality of goods or services, or the failure to make payment when due. A breach can also take the form of failing to refrain from certain conduct, as agreed, like opening a new business that competes with a former employer when the employee agreed not to compete. Keep in mind that a breach can occur in both written and oral contracts, although certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable.
What Types of Lawyers Handle Contract Disputes?
There are many different ways to describe an attorney who handles contract disputes, including a “contract attorney,” a “commercial litigator,” or a “business litigator.” Most often, a contract dispute attorney is a corporate attorney or business litigator who is well-versed in contract law.
Corporate attorneys, like those of us at Block & Associates, are experienced in a variety of business-related disciplines, such as employment law, corporate law, contract law, and construction law, which makes our firm especially equipped to navigate and resolve contract disputes.
Types of Contract Disputes Handled by a Corporate Attorney
Contracts can exist among companies, between companies and their employees, among companies and their clients, between companies and their vendors, and among individuals.
As mentioned above, contract disputes generally arise from a breach or a suspected breach. Breaches can be minor or material, and may include:
- Partial Breach – A partial breach, sometimes referred to as a minor breach, involves a situation where one or a few terms of the contract have been violated, but the breach does not end the working relationship completely. For example, a partial breach would occur where a vendor delivered a new product on schedule, but failed to include all of the documents needed to operate the product. A common example of a partial breach occurs in service contracts where the service being provided is substandard and not in line with one party’s expected performance.
- Material Breach – A material breach occurs when an essential part of the contract remains incomplete to the point that the entire contract cannot be fulfilled. For instance, a material breach occurs where a construction company is hired to build a new ice cream shop in time to open for the summer, but construction is not complete until October.
- Anticipatory Breach – An anticipatory breach occurs when one party tells the other that they will not be able to fulfill a part of their contract. An anticipatory breach occurs, for instance, when a vendor tells the other party to the contract that a workforce shortage will make it impossible for them to meet an upcoming contract milestone.
- Actual Breach – In a situation involving an actual breach, one of the parties to the contract fails to fulfill their side of an agreement properly, where, for example, one party has already paid for delivery of a product, but the product never arrives.
Resolving Contract Disputes With An Attorney
A contract attorney can help you resolve disputes in a variety of ways, including:
- Explaining the terms of the contract to reach clarity on both sides. If necessary, an attorney can help spell out the terms in plain language so that both sides of the contract can interpret the language properly.
- Assisting in negotiated resolution, and, at times, preparing a new, separate agreement with mutual agreement by both parties. If negotiation is unsuccessful, participation in a mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution can be a practical solution to avoid costly litigation.
- Suing the breaching party or defending the alleged breaching party in a lawsuit. Many business litigators like those at Block & Associates are experienced in both prosecuting and defending breach of contract disputes in commercial, construction, and employment-related settings.
Preventing Contract Disputes
While attorneys can be instrumental in resolving a contract dispute, they can be just as important in preventing the dispute in the first place. A contract attorney should:
- Create clear contracts. Attorneys should prepare thorough and unambiguous legal contracts that stand up to scrutiny and protect their clients’ best interests. In most cases, attorneys ought to include language in the contract that, among other things, defines what qualifies as a breach under the terms of the contract and sets up a framework for how disputes are resolved should one arise.
- Review the contract. Individuals and companies should have their attorneys review their contracts before they enter into them to ensure that the document represents a fair deal and protects their interests to the fullest extent possible. Upon review, an attorney can recommend necessary edits before the contract is executed. In this way, advanced planning is essential. When it comes to contracts, it is always better to spend money up-front to protect your interests instead of spending money to litigate disputes after they arise.
- Explain the contract. Contracts can be very detailed and very confusing. Sometimes, they are set up that way on purpose by the other party. Experienced attorneys can help parse through legalese and complexities to fully understand the requirements of an agreement before it is executed.
With an exceptional team of experienced and collaborative corporate attorneys and business litigators, Block & Associates is uniquely positioned to assist its clients in ensuring that their commercial contracts are prepared in a thorough manner, to anticipate and address disputes before they arise.
Hire A Contract Dispute Attorney
If you need an experienced attorney to assist you with a contract dispute, contact Block & Associates. We can assist you or your company in navigating all aspects of contract law.