The reality of the modern world is that it revolves around contracts. No work worth doing occurs without the existence of a contract, and often, parties to contracts may not even realize that they are bound by certain provisions.
In legalese, a contract is a sufficiently definite agreement between two parties reached after the acceptance of an offer supported by consideration. In English, a contract is basically any agreement that the people who signed the contract intended to be legally binding. Additionally, a contract may be oral for most purposes, without a writing, and still be legally binding.
There are many types of contracts: contracts for the sale of goods (more on these specifically in a later article), contracts for the sale of land, services contracts, confidentiality agreements, and even internet terms of service agreements.
Problems with contracts arise, however, after a contract has been formed, but one party wants out of the bargain. Looking back to the English definition of a contract, contracts are meant to be legally-binding documents, but how does one actually enforce that piece of paper?
As lawyers who handle business matters in the local community, we see breached contract cases almost on a daily basis. We have found that there are generally three ways to get contracts enforced:
Simply ask—nicely first, but then make demands
Not all people and businesses who breach contracts are bad people. Many either did not intend to breach, or simply ran into some type of trouble. Parties to contracts generally understand the legally-binding nature of a contract and are generally willing to carry it out if they can. For those who either can’t or won’t uphold their end of the bargain; however, a strongly worded letter from a lawyer can sometimes work magic.
Negotiate—contracts within contracts:
Most of the time when contracts collapse, the breach is the result of a small impasse. For example, a job might have cost more than expected, or a supply of goods might have arrived in time. Generally, parties are willing to negotiate performance in exchange for small concessions.
For example, in the case of a late delivery, the buyer might be willing to take a late shipment at a discount. Contract lawyers by trade are negotiators, and helping clients save their negotiated agreements is what we do.
To Court!—the last resort:
Everyone knows that there are unreasonable people living in this world. Unfortunately, some contracts just break down and there is no saving them. The legal system allows people who are the victims of breached contracts to sue the party that breached the agreement.
Generally, courts can force people who break their contracts to pay damages in the amount equal to what the contract victim expected to get out of the deal. For example, if Grant agrees to paint Lee’s house and then Lee never pays, Grant can go to court to recover the entire price of that contract.
For more questions about contract enforcement options in either New York or New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of Yuriy Moshes. We offer free consultations for all new clients. Our law firm has three offices, two in New York City (Brooklyn and Manhattan) and one in West Orange, New Jersey.