Contracts are an essential tool that brings economic and social order. They facilitate voluntary exchanges and help prevent conflict while mitigating risk.
When a contract is formed, two or more parties promise to do (or not to do) something. But what happens when someone violates the terms of the agreement and fails to perform as promised? When a breach occurs, you may be able to recover damages. Or, if you’ve been accused of failing to perform, a contract attorney can help you craft a defense to minimize your liability. If you are involved in a contract dispute in Illinois, get in touch with the attorneys at DeBlasio & Gower at (630) 560-1123.
The Elements of a Contract
No matter what type of contract you have, whether it’s employment, real estate, service, business, or something else, all contracts require the following three basic elements:
- Offer: Though the term “offer” is relatively straightforward, for a contract to be valid, an offer has to meet specific requirements, such as containing definite terms and communication to the offeree.
- Acceptance: Agreeing to the terms of an offer qualifies as an acceptance as long as the offeree accepts in a manner acceptable to the offeror. When offer and acceptance are present, there is said to be mutual assent.
- Consideration: The glue that holds a contract together is consideration. For there to be consideration, each party has to bargain for something. It’s not enough to say, “I’ll give this to you.” Instead, that’s a gift. With consideration, both parties have to exchange something of value.
These elements might seem rudimentary, but there are countless issues that arise in contract formation that can affect a breach of contract claim. A breach of contract lawyer will review how your contract was formed to look for any issues that may affect the outcome of our negotiations.
Remedies for a Breach of Contract
Depending on the terms of the contract and severity of the breach, there are several potential remedies available to a plaintiff in a breach of contract scenario, including, but not limited to:
- Compensatory Damages: As the term suggests, these damages financially compensate the non-breaching party for the economic harm proven to have arisen from the loss as a result of the breach.
- Consequential Damages. This form of monetary relief seeks to compensate a plaintiff for ancillary damages that arise as a consequence of another party’s breach of a contract. For example, if a transportation company pays $2 million for 20 new delivery trucks that are not delivered on time and that breach causes the transportation company to lose a $20 million delivery contract, the transportation company may argue that it has sustained $2 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in consequential damages.
- Liquidated Damages: A liquidated damages clause specifies a predetermined amount of money the non-breaching party will receive.
- Specific Performance: When financial compensation is inadequate, the court may require that the breaching party perform a specific act. Under contract law, specific performance is an equitable remedy in which one party asks a court to order another party to perform under a contract. For example, if a John Smith breaks a contract to sell a one of a kind stunning ocean front property, the buyer may be able to obtain specific performance to force John Smith to sell him that unique property. Typically, specific performance is only ordered when there is no adequate remedy under the law, such as money damages. However, if specific performance does not give complete relief, a plaintiff may also be able to recover damages. Specific performance usually cannot be obtained to enforce promises for personal services.
- Nominal Damages: These damages tend to be symbolic and are awarded when it is difficult to prove that there was a monetary loss. As such, nominal damages are minimal, sometimes as little as $1.
Contact a Breach of Contract Attorney Today
At DeBlasio & Gower LLC, our attorneys have over four decades of combined experience in contract law, successfully resolving complex disputes in Chicago, its surrounding counties and throughout the state of Illinois. Our professional and knowledgeable team can help draft contracts to reduce the chances of a dispute or work with you to resolve a conflict stemming from an existing contract. Contact our law firm at (630) 560-1123 to discuss your contract dispute.