Commercial and business litigation often centers on breach of contract allegations. When a party breaches a contract, you need the guidance and aggressive advocacy of an experienced commercial and business litigation attorney to hold the breaching party accountable. Simply because a contract has been breached, however, does not mean the non-breaching party can recover at trial. For example, a party must suffer damages (i.e. lost profits, payments unjustly retained by the breaching party, additional monies necessary to now obtain the same service or product from another source, etc…) directly as a result of the breach. A complaint must also be filed timely in order to comply with the statute of limitations, which is generally four years for a written contract and two years for oral contracts.
The necessary elements of a breach of contract claim are: (1) the existence of a contract, (2) the plaintiff’s performance of the contract, (3) the defendant’s breach of the contract, and (4) the resulting damage to the plaintiff.
Even with the best of intentions, breaches may occur because the terms of the contract were vague or one party simply fails to perform despite their best efforts. Complex legal disputes can sometimes be avoided (especially in the context of partnership disputes) if the parties clearly reduce all essential terms to writing, address all reasonably foreseeable possibilities, and set forth the expectations of all sides. Furthermore, a clearly written contract can increase your chances of meaningful recovery at trial or through a negotiated settlement. For example, if you believe that a breach may cause you to suffer lost profits, you must notify the other party of that fact and specify, with reasonable certainty, the amount of lost profits you are likely to suffer in case of non-performance.
Ordinarily, all parties (including the prevailing party) are responsible for their own attorneys’ fees in a contract dispute and in most instances of commercial litigation. However, the parties can avoid this reality by agreeing, in writing, that the losing party is responsible for the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees. Inserting an “Attorney Fee” provision in your contracts may sometimes avoid a dispute all-together, as it can serve as a disincentive to even the contemplation of a breach.
Ben Yeroushalmi is a trial lawyer experienced in business and commercial litigation and holds a successful track record of obtaining meaningful judgments at trial. Our firm represents both large businesses entangled in complex contractual issues as well as small companies facing typical contractual disputes. Although a majority of business litigation involves a dispute over a contract, many such contractual disputes involving commercial and business litigation may also involve related causes of action, such as fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unfair competition, trademark infringement and interference with economic advantage.
Our experienced attorneys will carefully review and research your case to give you an assessment of your best options. We will guide you through every step of the process and explain the most suitable options given the particular circumstances of your case. We will also fully inform you of your payments options, which can range from a contingency fee (we are paid only if there is a recovery), to hourly compensation, to a hybrid fee schedule (a combination of hourly compensation and contingency fees.) Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.