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How a court may view a breach of contract claim

As a Kansas business owner, you probably rely on relationships with other people in order to conduct your business. You need vendors, suppliers and others with whom you enter into contracts. Whether you are providing the goods or services or receiving them, you intend to hold up your end of the bargain, and you expect the other party to do the same.

However, not everyone does. In those cases, someone may have told you that you could sue for "breach of contract," but you aren't sure whether that really applies in your situation. In order to know for sure, it would help to have some information about what that means in contract law.

What constitutes a breach of contract?

The simplest definition of a breach of contract is that one party failed to keep the promises it made in the contract. Of course, as is the case with many things, it isn't quite that simple in reality. If you go to a Kansas civil court seeking compensation for the other party's failure to fulfill his or her part of the agreement, the court will want to know the following:

  • Is there a valid contract?
  • Does the contract adequately spell out the obligations of each party?
  • Did you and the other party change the contract at some point?
  • Did the other party fail to meet the obligations in the contract, i.e. breach the contract?
  • Was it a material breach?
  • Does the other party have a legal reason for not fulfilling his or her part of the contract?
  • What damages did you sustain as a result?

Your answers to these questions will help the court determine whether to rule in your favor.

How does the court define a "material" breach?

If you noticed, the court will need to determine whether the breach by the other party was "material" to the contract. This is a crucial point since you would no longer be obligated to fulfill your part of the contract if the court finds the breach was material. In making that determination, the court looks at the following:

  • Can the other party adequately compensate you for the damages you incurred due to the breach?
  • How much benefit did you receive?
  • Did the other party fulfill any portion of his or her obligations under the contract?
  • Was the other party's breach willful or negligent?
  • Did the other party breach the contract due to some hardship?
  • Is it likely that the other party will perform the obligations outlined in the contract?

The answers to these questions will determine how the court will rule. Now that you have a basic understanding of how a court views an allegation of a breach of contract, you may better prepare your claim. It may also help you to make use of legal resources in your area to help ensure that you put forward the best case possible.

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