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Contract Dispute Solicitors

contract dispute solicitors

What are contract disputes?

A contract dispute occurs when parties involved in a contract disagree on the terms, conditions, or performance of the contract. These disputes can arise from various issues, such as misunderstandings, contractual interpretation issues, breach of contract, or unforeseen events.

Some common causes of contract disputes include:

Breach of contract:

This is the most common cause and arises when one party fails to uphold their obligations as stipulated in the contract. Breaches can take many forms, such as late delivery of goods, failure to provide goods or services that meet the agreed-upon standards or obligations under the contract, or even complete non-performance.

Disagreements on contractual terms:

Contracts, while intended to be clear and concise, can sometimes contain ambiguous wording or lack crucial details. This ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings about what was truly agreed upon, causing disputes when expectations differ and causing parties to argue that the contract contains implied terms.

Disputes regarding performance:

A party may not perform their contractual duties at all, resulting in non-performance, or a party may perform their obligations late or in a manner that does not meet the contractually agreed terms, standards or specifications.

Mistake or misrepresentation:

Errors can occur during the contract formation process. One party might unintentionally agree to incorrect terms due to a mistake, or they might be misled by the other party’s misrepresentation of key facts. If such mistakes or misrepresentations come to light later, they can ignite disputes about the validity of the contract.

Unforeseen circumstances:

Events beyond the reasonable anticipation of either party, known as a force majeure event, can significantly impact a contract’s fulfilment.

For instance, a natural disaster might hinder a supplier’s ability to deliver materials, or a change in the law could render certain aspects of the contract unenforceable. These unforeseen circumstances can lead to disputes about how to proceed or who bears the burden of any resulting complications.

When a contract dispute arises, it can cause a significant amount of stress to the parties involved and can hinder normal business operations. However, there are resolution methods available to assist you.

Our experienced team of contract dispute resolution solicitors have a strong track record of assisting clients with commercial contract disputes. We work tirelessly to ensure favourable outcomes for our clients, providing strategic advice and assistance.

If you would like more information on our services or to speak to one of our contract dispute solicitors, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Breach of contract disputes

Generally speaking, contract breaches can be categorised by both the timing of the breach and the severity of the breach. For example:

By timing of the breach:

  • Anticipatory breach: This arises when a party communicates their intention not to fulfil their contractual obligations before the deadline for performance. For instance, a contractor might inform you they will abandon a project halfway through. The non-breaching party can then treat the contract as terminated and potentially seek damages.
  • Actual breach: This is the most common type and arises when a party fails to perform their obligations as stipulated in the contract after the due date. This could involve late delivery, defective work, or complete non-performance.

By severity of the breach:

  • Minor breach: This is a relatively insignificant failure to fulfil a minor aspect of the contract. While there may be a technical breach, it doesn’t significantly hinder the overall purpose of the agreement. For instance, a delivery that’s a few days late might be considered a minor breach if the goods are still usable.
  • Material breach: This is a significant failure to perform a vital term of the contract. The breach goes to the heart of the agreement, making it difficult or impossible for the other party to receive the benefit they expected. An example would be if a construction company used substandard materials that compromised the structural integrity of a building.
  • Fundamental breach: This is the most serious type of breach. It’s a complete denial or completion of the contractual obligation, essentially rendering the contract pointless. The non-breaching party can treat the contract as terminated and pursue various remedies, including seeking damages.

It is important to understand and differentiate between the types of contractual disputes, as remedies will differ depending on the type.

For example, minor breaches may only warrant a simple corrective action, whereas material or fundamental breaches may enable a party to terminate the contract or potentially sue for damages.

What should you do if you are experiencing a contract dispute?

A contract dispute can cause a significant amount of distress and uncertainty for all parties involved. Many contracts revolve around good business relationships, and parties may be concerned about moving forward amicably for the sake of their long-standing business relationships.

It is important to remember that many contract disputes arise in the world of business, and with the assistance of an experienced contract dispute solicitor, most disputes can be resolved in a timely and professional manner.

Our solicitors can provide valuable guidance on your specific situation, assess the merits of your case, and advise you on the best course of action. They can also represent you in negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or even litigation if necessary.

Ultimately, if you are involved in a contract dispute, the sooner you obtain legal advice, the better. Working with an experienced contract dispute solicitor can ensure the issue is resolved and addressed quickly, saving all parties time and money.

How can contract disputes be resolved?

There are various ways in which parties and solicitors can collaborate to resolve a contract dispute, ranging from informal discussions to formal legal proceedings. The most suitable approach depends on factors like the severity of the disagreement, the value of the contract, and the willingness of both parties to find a compromise.

Negotiation:

This is the most common and often preferred method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) due to its informal and cost-effective approach. The parties involved directly communicate to try and reach a mutually agreeable solution. This can involve compromises from both sides and can be a relatively quick and inexpensive way to resolve the dispute.

Mediation:

A neutral third party, the mediator, can facilitate a discussion between the disagreeing parties. The mediator doesn’t impose a solution but rather guides the conversation and helps explore potential compromises to reach a settlement. Mediation is generally faster and less costly than litigation.

Arbitration:

Similar to mediation, arbitration involves a neutral third party, the arbitrator. However, unlike a mediator, the arbitrator has the authority to make a binding decision that both parties must comply with.

Expert Determination:

In some cases, the contract might have a clause specifying that a qualified expert will decide on a specific issue related to the dispute. This approach can be useful for technical matters requiring specialised knowledge. The expert’s decision is usually binding on both parties.

Litigation:

This is the formal process of taking the dispute to court. A judge will hear arguments from both sides and issue a ruling that is legally binding. Litigation can be lengthy, expensive, and stressful, so it’s typically seen as a last resort after other methods have failed.

If you would like to discuss resolving your dispute with a member of our contract dispute solicitor team, then please contact us today using the information at the bottom of the page.

How can South Bank Legal assist?

Our team of contract dispute solicitors are highly experienced in all types of contract breaches and remedies to offer you advice suited to your unique situation.

The commercial litigation solicitors on our team can also provide specialist legal services on a wide range of commercial disputes issues. These include intellectual property disputes, multi-million-pound shareholder disputes and property disputes.

If you are looking to take legal action or if you would simply like more advice on contract disputes, you can contact us using the form below or telephone 02035765179 for a confidential discussion with one of our solicitors.

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