Vancouver Breach of Contract Lawyers
A claim for breach of contract arises when a party fails to meet its obligations or violates a fundamental term of the contract. These business disputes can cause substantial financial losses and business interruptions and compromise the parties’ relationships with other stakeholders.
Meridian Law Group has comprehensive knowledge of the legal remedies available in breach of contract claims. The firm advocates for clients who have suffered a loss due to another party’s breach of contract and also defends those accused of failing to uphold their end of an agreement. No matter the client’s involvement in a claim, Meridian Law Group‘s talented commercial litigation team takes decisive action to secure their legal position and vigorously represents their interests in court.
Types of Breach of Contract Claims
As contracts are used in virtually all business transactions, breach of contract claims can arise in numerous situations. Some common situations where a breach of contract may occur are:
- Real estate disputes where the breach of a Contract for Purchase and Sale causes a transaction to fail;
- A vendor’s default under an agreement to provide goods or services;
- Disagreements resulting from a breached shareholder or partnership agreement;
- The failure of a commercial landlord or tenant to uphold the terms of a commercial lease; and
- Violations of a construction contract leading to project delay and increased costs.
Written contracts are easier to prove and, by extension, more straightforward to enforce upon a breach of its terms. However, a party’s failure to meet their responsibilities under a verbal contract can also result in a breach of contract claim. Whether a court will enforce the terms of an oral contract will depend on the strength of the evidence relating to the agreement.
Remedies for Breach of Contract
The types of remedy granted to address a breach of contract depend on the effect of the violation and whether the innocent party wishes to salvage the agreement.
Damages are usually sought in breach of contract claims and compensate the innocent party for the financial losses caused by the breach. These can include:
- Costs incurred by the innocent party on the expectation that the contract would be fulfilled (for example, materials or supplies purchased for a project that doesn’t proceed);
- The return of a deposit provided at the outset of an agreement;
- Loss of profits;
- Lost business opportunities; and
- Punitive damages, which are only awarded in situations where a party’s conduct is particularly malicious or high-handed.
The party claiming damages has a legal duty to alleviate the harm caused by the breach of contract and mitigate their financial loss. Otherwise, the court may reduce the amount of damages ordered.
Once an award for damages has been made, it can be enforced using a variety of collection actions, including garnishment of the judgment debtor’s wages or bank accounts, seizure and sale of their assets, or registration of the judgment against the title to their property.
Specific performance is an equitable legal remedy obtained through the court that forces a party to take action. In breach of contract cases, an order of specific performance usually requires the breaching party to fulfill its obligations under the agreement at issue.
A party may seek an order of specific performance when damages are not sufficient to remedy the harm suffered. A typical example is a broken real estate transaction, where the property in question is so unique that the innocent party would have to expend considerable time and cost to find a comparable replacement. To avoid further lost business revenue or operational interruptions, the party may instead force the Contract for Purchase and Sale through an order of specific performance.
In some circumstances, the breaching party may no longer be able to complete their end of an agreement. For example, they may have lost business relationships through other breached or terminated contracts and are therefore unable to obtain the required financing or materials. Where specific performance is no longer available or is less appropriate than a monetary remedy, the court may choose to order damages in lieu of specific performance.
Whereas an order of specific performance compels an action, an injunction restrains a party from doing something. Injunctions are sought in breach of contract claims to stop a party from continuing to breach the contract terms. They are often granted on an interim (“interlocutory”) basis to prevent further financial loss pending the final determination of a dispute, usually through a lawsuit.
Given the prohibitive effect an injunction has on the breaching party, the party must prove that there is a serious legal issue between the parties that should be tried by the court. They must also demonstrate that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is denied, and their need for the injunction outweighs its negative impact on the other party.
Frustration of Contracts
Parties may not always be responsible for their inability to fulfill a contract’s terms. A contract may be considered “frustrated” where its performance has been drastically altered or rendered impossible by outside events not addressed in the agreement. For example, parties may be unable to complete part or all of a contract due to extreme weather conditions, a pandemic, or war.
In British Columbia, the Frustrated Contract Act steps in where a contract is frustrated and has no clause for remedying the frustration. It provides remedies for restitution and consequential losses suffered as a result of the frustrating event and also allows the court to sever any part of the contract which has already been wholly performed.
Contact Meridian Law Group in Vancouver for Vigorous Representation in Breach of Contract Claims
The talented litigators of Meridian Law Group have a firm command of the law regarding breach of contract issues and use that knowledge to fight for clients on either side of a dispute. Meridian Law Group is a formidable presence in the courtroom and develops dynamic litigation strategies that deliver results.
For over 30 years, the lawyers of Meridian Law Group have developed a reputation for consistently exceeding client expectations. Prominently located in downtown Vancouver, the firm proudly represents clients in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia, including West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. To schedule a confidential consultation about your business dispute, please reach out online or call (604) 687-2277.