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Getting What’s Owed: A Guide to Breach of Contract Remedies

When two parties enter into a binding legal agreement, they have a reasonable expectation that the other will uphold their end of the bargain. However, disputes happen, and contracts get broken.

If you find yourself asking, “What are my options when someone breaches a contract?” this guide covers the most common remedies available.

At J. Muir & Associates, we’ve handled hundreds of contract disputes over the years. We understand how stressful and damaging a breach can be, especially when it impacts your finances or business. The good news is that you have rights in the situation.

Contract law provides remedies to make the non-breaching party “whole” again, whether that means recouping monetary losses or ensuring the terms are still fulfilled.

What Qualifies as a Contract Breach?

Before diving into your options for recourse, let’s clarify — what exactly constitutes a breach of contract? Essentially, it’s when one or both parties fail to meet the agreed-upon, binding obligations spelled out in the terms of the contract.

For example, say you hired a landscaping company to plant 20 trees on your commercial property within a three-week timeline you both signed off on. If they plant only 12 trees a month later, they likely breached your service contract. Or perhaps you rented equipment from a vendor who failed to deliver the items by the date clearly stated in your agreement.

The type of breach can range from a partial or minor infraction to a complete violation of the major terms. The remedies available to you often depend on the extent and impact of the contractual failure.

Common Breach of Contract Legal Remedies

If you’re the non-breaching victim of a contract breach in Florida, you can pursue several remedies through legal action.

Common remedies include:

  • Compensatory damages: This most common remedy seeks to reimburse you for losses and expenses stemming directly from the breach so that you are made financially whole again.
  • Specific performance: The court can order the breaching party to fulfill their original contractual obligations. This ensures you still receive the service or product agreed upon.
  • Rescission: You can request to nullify the contract and be absolved from your remaining duties tied to the agreement going forward.
  • Restitution: If you conferred any benefits to the breaching party, restitution aims to restore those losses through direct repayment or reversing transactions/property transfers.

Let’s explore these key remedies in greater depth so you understand all your options if faced with a breach.

Recovering Your Losses Through Damages

With years of combined legal experience behind us, we always recommend first trying for compensatory damages any time financial loss stems from a contract breach. This route aims to make you financially whole again by monetary repayment for the harm done.

What types of losses might you recoup? Common examples we’ve secured for clients include:

  • The cost difference between the original contract and hiring someone else to fulfill the duties at a higher price
  • Expenses tied to delays, such as higher interest or fees on loans taken out in expectation of goods/services to be delivered
  • Lost profits and business opportunities missed because promised items or actions never materialized
  • Out-of-pocket costs associated with the breach and efforts to remedy the situation

Damages also cover harder-to-quantify but equally valid harms like damage to your professional reputation or loss of goodwill after an undelivered product results in customer complaints.

An experienced business contract attorney can help gather the evidence and formulate the appropriate financial calculations to prove the total sum you’re owed. It’s not always a straightforward equation, especially when lost future earnings come into play. We’ve developed proven methods for those instances over nearly a century in business.

Compelling Performance Through Specific Performance

Monetary repayment makes victims whole again in most contract breaches. However, in certain situations, a payout doesn’t adequately address the infraction.

What if the breached deal involved selling you a priceless work of art? Or granting rights to intellectual property pivotal to your company’s future growth plans? No amount of damages can necessarily replace those unique assets.

When items or services contracted are rare or one-of-a-kind in nature, your business lawyer can petition for a specific performance order instead. If granted by a judge, this legally mandates the breaching party to follow through on their contractual duties owed to you. So, in those examples, they would have to furnish the promised painting or complete the technology transfer.

It tends to serve as a last resort remedy when no adequate monetary value can account for the violated obligation. The specifics of your situation determine if it is worthwhile to pursue. We carefully assess whether the effort and legal fees make sense compared to estimated damages.

Undoing the Deal Through Rescission

Sometimes, you just want a mulligan on an agreement gone wrong. Rescission provides a reset button of sorts, allowing you to unwind the deal. The court can essentially deem the contract terminated and void.
With the judge’s rescission order, any unfinished duties or payments tied to the agreement get absolved going forward. If any money or property already changed hands, the breaching party has to give back their ill-gotten gains from your upfront investment or prepaid deposits.

We typically see rescission come into play under a few scenarios:

  • The breach is so extensive that the entire substance of the contract gets undermined
  • You lose faith in the breaching party’s ability or willingness to fulfill the remainder of the deal
  • You decide terminating the agreement best serves your interests even despite losses already accrued

When major infractions occur early on in longer-term agreements, rescission can minimize further issues down the road. Our legal team helps assess if starting fresh makes the most strategic sense based on your case specifics.

Reclaiming Conferred Benefits

Sometimes, during the course of a contract relationship, before the breach, you confer certain tangible benefits upon the opposing party. Say you paid half the material costs upfront for a construction project or licensed your patented software to a technology firm for a monthly fee.

If they cease delivering on their promised contractual counter-performance, you may have grounds to take those benefits back through restitution.

The court can essentially find their contractual failure means they no longer deserve to retain the assets you provided them over the course of your arrangement. Through repayment or reversing transactions, restitution restores the losses created by their unjust enrichment at your expense.

Strategic Enforcement Paves the Way to Resolution

Here at J. Muir & Associates, we don’t settle for breaches of agreements against our clients. Once we have carefully documented the contractual failure after a thorough case review, we send formal notice demanding the satisfactory remedy we deem appropriate given the situation’s specifics. Whenever feasible, we aim to negotiate a settlement without resorting to court proceedings for the sake of efficiency.

However, we never hesitate to file claims or lawsuits when warranted. Our business litigation track record speaks for itself when it comes to skillfully leveraging these remedies on our client’s behalf.

Every case has its own intricacies, but the combination of our seasoned experience plus tailored legal strategy puts the odds for a favorable resolution in your favor.

Don’t Face Contract Breaches Alone – Consult Us Today

Having a binding contract breached can leave you feeling powerless as the wronged party. However, you have rights along with remedies under Florida law.

To discuss your options in confidence with our team of attorneys, contact us to schedule a consultation. Just a 30-minute call can provide critical insights into the best path forward to make you financially whole again after a breach.

Author Bio

Jane Muir is a Shareholder and Managing Partner of J. Muir & Associates, a Miami business law firm she founded in 2018. With more than 13 years of experience in business, she is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal areas, including business litigation, contracts, corporate formation, insolvency, nonprofits, partnership disputes, and other business law matters.

Jane received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law and is a member of the Dade County Bar Association and Coral Gables Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “20 Under 40” in 2016 by Brickell Magazine. Super Lawyers named her a Rising Star from 2014–2019 and selected her for the Super Lawyers status.

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