What is an Affirmative Defense to Breach of Contract? - ADA Blog

What is an Affirmative Defense to Breach of Contract?

by Jarett A. dePaula
01/26/22 (Updated: 04/01/22)

Have you been sued for a breach of contract? No matter what the substance of the lawsuit is, it can be incredibly stressful. Therefore, it is important to understand what the allegations are, what the implications might be, what penalties you might face, and what your options are for a legal defense.

In some cases, you may decide to pursue an affirmative defense for a breach-of-contract case. What does this look like, and how can you put yourself in a position to be successful? One of the most important things you need to do is reach out to an attorney who can help you.

What Does a Breach of Contract Mean?

A breach-of-contract lawsuit will be filed if one party believes that the other party has broken an agreement in a signed contract. Typically, when you sign a contract, you agree to do something. You might agree to deliver something to someone else, you might agree to provide services for that person, or you might agree to pay money in exchange for something.

If either party does not hold up their end of the bargain, then that party could be guilty of a breach of contract. Of course, contracts come in many shapes and forms. Therefore, the exact nature of the allegation can vary depending on what is stated in the contract.

What Are a Few Examples of Breach of Contract Cases?

There are a few examples of breach of contract cases. The sum of the categories include:

  • Minor Breach: A minor breach is the simplest form of a breach-of-contract. This is what happens if someone does not follow one of the small clauses in the contract. For example, you might bring something to a repair shop. Then, that repair shop promises to deliver the finished product to you by a certain time. If they missed the deadline, or if they deliver it late, they could be guilty of a minor breach of contract.
  • Material Breach: A material breach is more serious. This is what happens if someone doesn't follow the intended purpose of the agreement. For example, somebody may have signed a contract stating that they would deliver 1000 of a certain product to you. Then, when it shows up, you only get a few dozen products and they are not the thing you ordered. This would be categorized as a material breach of contract.

In addition to the categories above, breach of contract cases fall under actual breaches or anticipatory breaches. The differences between the two include:

  • Actual Breach: An actual breach takes place when one party has not fulfilled the terms of the contract or refuses to meet the terms of the contract. In essence, the breach has already taken place.
  • Anticipatory Breach: An anticipatory breach takes place when one party lets the other party know in advance that they will be unable to meet the terms of the contract. Even though the contract is not technically been breached yet, the other party knows they will not be able to fulfill the terms.

So, one party is not going to meet the terms of the contract, or already has not met the terms of the contract. What are the legal implications of this, and what happens next?

The only way this situation goes anywhere is if one party files a breach of contract lawsuit against the other party. What are the implications of filing this breach?

There are several issues that have to be discussed. They include:

  • First, the parties have to prove that a contract exists. In this case, it will be on the plaintiff to prove that there is a valid contract between the two parties. The court will be responsible for reviewing the contract, specifying the responsibilities owed by each party, and making sure the contract was valid.
  • Then, the court has to assess whether there are legal reasons for the breach. Essentially, the court has to decide whether the plaintiff has a legal reason to bring the lawsuit.
  • Both parties need to assess the economic implications of the breach of contract case. Are the economic implications of the breach worth going through the legal process of settling it?

If someone has brought a lawsuit against you for a breach-of-contract case, you need to defend yourself appropriately. That is why you need to work with a lawyer who has experience in this area. You might decide to put forth an affirmative defense.

What Are Affirmative Defenses to Breach of Contract?

An affirmative defense is one of the most common types of defenses against a breach-of-contract claim. In an affirmative defense, you do not contest the claims of the plaintiff; however, you do contest that there were additional factors that render the breach of contract claim irrelevant.

A few examples of an affirmative defense against a breach-of-contract claim include:

  • You may state that the contract is an oral contract and should have been in writing. You will need to prove that the contract should have been in writing and that it was not in writing.
  • You can also claim that the contract was not finalized. Either you didn't discern the final details of the contract or the parties never actually agreed to the contract. As a result, that is unenforceable.
  • You may claim that there was a mistake in the contract that renders it invalid. Maybe you are claiming that the other party concealed facts that were material to the contract.
  • You can also claim that you did not have the capacity to consent to the contract. For example, the subject of the contract could be a minor, who requires a parent or guardian to consent on his or her behalf.
  • You could also claim the contract is illegal. For example, the contract may involve illegal drugs, prostitution, or something else that is considered a crime in the state.
  • You can also claim Estoppel, which means that one party agreed to a modification to the contract that he or she overlooked. This happens if a landlord promises not to evict someone for six months even though the person hasn't paid rent for six months.

To put forth an affirmative defense to a breach of contract claim, you need to work with a lawyer who has experience in the area.

Trust the Team from Aaron Delgado and Associates for a Breach of Contract in Florida

If you are facing a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Florida, trust Aaron Delgado and Associates to help you. We will always put your interests first, and we will make sure your side of the argument is heard. Contact us today for a case review.

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