Today’s world is governed by contracts. A contract is a legally binding agreement between multiple parties, which obligates these parties to perform specific acts. A contract is valid when the parties to it fully understand the agreement, accept its terms and conditions, and agree to fulfill them. In years past, many binding contracts were verbal and sealed by a “handshake” agreement. But in the modern age, most valid contracts are written, signed, and sometimes notarized.
Contract disputes often arise between parties when there is a belief that someone is not fulfilling their obligations under the agreement. This could happen for a number of reasons. Some contracts are poorly worded, and the wording is so vague, it is open to multiple interpretations. When this is the case, parties have a tendency to adopt the most favorable interpretation they can read into it. There are other times when a party is in clear violation of the terms and conditions of an agreement. This is known as a “breach of contract”. In either case, it will be necessary to obtain strong legal counsel to help resolve the dispute in the most practical, effective, and cost-efficient manner possible.
At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., our contract disputes and breach of contract attorneys help individuals and small and medium-sized businesses achieve resolutions to the complicated and nuanced problems associated with disputes arising out of contracts. Our lawyers handle an array of commercial litigation claims related to contract disputes. We provide businesses with the representation they need when facing lawsuits or considering lawsuits against others. We help you avoid legal difficulties by providing skilled and comprehensive advice on a full range of business litigation matters.
As with other types of disputes, our lawyers first explore the possibilities of settlement. However, when litigation is unavoidable, we have extensive courtroom experience and can resolve your contract or business dispute with a trial. Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. serves clients in Alabama and Mississippi. Reach out to us to learn more at 800-574-4332.
What Is a Contract Dispute?
A contract creates certain obligations that must be fulfilled by the parties that entered into the agreement. And as mentioned earlier, failure to do so constitutes a “breach of contract.” Depending on the specifics of the contract, a breach can occur in a number of ways, including:
- A party fails to perform on time
- A party does not perform in accordance with the terms of the agreement
- A party fails to perform at all
Contract disputes often occur between a number of different parties. Some of the most common include:
- Business Ownership Disputes: Disputes between business partners, members, shareholders, franchisors and franchisees, parties involved in a joint venture together, and other disputes over business ownership issues.
- Employment Disputes: Disputes between employers and employees or independent contractors over issues such as non-compete agreements, nondisclosure/confidentiality agreements, trade secret protection, and many others.
- External Business Disputes: Disputes between businesses and external parties; such as customers/clients, vendors, and trading partners.
- Insurance Disputes: Disputes between insurance companies and their insureds over issues such as insurance bad faith and many others.
- Construction Disputes: There are many parties involved in the construction and sale of a property, including developers, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. Often times, disputes arise among these parties over work performed, payment, and related issues.
Contract disputes can be handled in a number of different ways. It is almost always preferable to settle the dispute outside of court whenever possible. This can be done through:
- Negotiation: As a general rule, the first approach should always be to try to negotiate a reasonable settlement with the other party. This can usually resolve the dispute more quickly and cost-effectively than with other methods.
- Mediation: If it is not possible to negotiate, you can bring your dispute before a neutral, third-party mediator. Mediation is a voluntary process, and no resolution that is reached through this process can be binding unless all parties agreed to it.
- Arbitration: Parties to a dispute can agree to have it decided by an arbitrator. Arbitration can be binding, meaning the arbitrator’s decision is final regardless of whether or not the parties agree. Or it can be non-binding, meaning the parties still have to sign off on any resolution for it to be valid.
Legal Remedies for Contract Disputes
Every situation is different, and every contract is unique. As such, there is no “one-size-fits-all” resolution that is suitable for every circumstance. There are several different types of legal remedies that can be sought to resolve a contract dispute:
- Monetary Damages: This would be a financial sum paid by the party that is in breach of contract to compensate the other party for whatever losses they have incurred because of the breach. These are known as “compensatory damages”. In very rare cases, a court may also award punitive damages, which are meant to punish the breaching party when their actions are especially egregious, and to help prevent similar actions from occurring in the future.
- Restitution: Restitution is giving back what a party gained through a breach of contract. This is not quite the same as compensation as restitution deals with what a certain party gained rather than what another party lost, but the concepts are similar.
- Contract Rescission: Sometimes, the appropriate legal remedy for a contract dispute is to rescind or terminate the contract. This is common in cases in which there is fraud, duress, undue influence, or one party lacks the capacity to consent to it. A rescission frees the parties from the obligation to perform under the terms and conditions of the contract.
- Contract Reformation: Sometimes the contract will not be completely terminated, but it will be reformed and rewritten to correct any inequities and make it fairer and more just.
- Specific Performance: This is an equitable remedy that is often ordered when monetary damages are not sufficient to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. Specific performance does not usually involve the performance of a certain task, but rather, it is commonly used in the form of injunctive relief to prevent an action from being taken that might damage the plaintiff.
What Will an Alabama Contract Dispute Lawyer Provide?
Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., is composed of a team of seasoned attorneys experienced in contract disputes and well-positioned to guide you through the handling your case. If you or your business find yourself in such a situation and you want to learn more about what your options, reach out to one of our Mobile contract dispute attorneys. We do not charge a fee to evaluate your case.