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California contract law & breaches

Contracts are the backbone of any business. They outline the obligations expected from both parties. The terms set therein (and those that California law applies, whether the conditions are in the contract or not) are the basis for managing smooth partnerships. 

Contracts are “voluntary and lawful agreement, by competent parties, for a good consideration, to do or not do a specified thing.” Robinson v. Magee, 9 Cal. 81, 83 (1858).

Disputes like failure to adhere to terms crop up all the time. Issues not in the contract create friction. Though harder to evidence, oral agreements — which carry weight with the court — has a foundation in an agreement of offer and acceptance.

Where the Dispute Begins

Under California contract law, determining a breach of contract — proving one party broke the agreement — lands on the shoulders of the claimant. One needs to show the other party’s performance caused damage without a valid or lawful reason to do so. 

The defendant has to demonstrate they did what the contract asked of them. “It is elementary a plaintiff suing for breach of contract must prove it has performed all conditions on its part or that it was excused from its performance.” Consolidate World Investments, Inc. v. Lido Preferred Ltd., 9 Cal.App.4th 373, 380 (1992).

An injured party is legally entitled to benefits and compensation loss due to a breach. While the court has guidelines for determining amounts, the rules aren’t set in stone. The court can use any range of factors to determine an aggrieved party’s award.

Case by Case

Contract law provides the opportunity to recover damages, expenditures, interest, and even legal costs and fees. 

Every case gets assessed on its own merits. The law can apply common remedies. In other cases, clients may choose the damages they want to argue. 

A party also has the option to rescind the breached contract and go after restitution of paid prices.

Other Legal Considerations

One has to factor in statutes of limitations. The courts have statutes for written and oral contracts based on their intent. There are unique guidelines for contracts addressing minors, commercial real estate, construction, etc.

In California, succeeding in these matters require the claimant to “prove (1) the contract, (2) the plaintiff’s performance of the contract or excuse for nonperformance, (3) the defendant’s breach, and (4) the resulting damage to the plaintiff.” Richman v. Hartley, 224 Cal.App.4th, 1182, 1186 (2014).

Contract law is complex. All parties must craft a document that serves everyone. It can be modified as needed. 

In this litigious society, contracts need to be airtight as feasible.