Claim for breach of contract. Claim for damages

Claim for breach of contract. Claim for damages
Published on: 13 May 2024

Table of contents

When two persons or companies, as well as a company and a person, sign a contract, they both undertake to perform what is specified in the contract. In other words, civil law states that they are obliged to do so.

The problem is that, on many occasions, one of the parties fails to do so. This is known as breach of contract and entitles the injured party to terminate the contract and claim damages.

Breach of contract

As mentioned above, the law establishes a mutual obligation of performance between the parties when a legally valid contract is signed. Failure to do so is punishable under Article 1124 of the Civil Code.

This key article within the most important text of our Civil Law establishes two ways for the aggrieved party to act. The first consists of judicially demanding the fulfilment of the clauses provided for in the contract. The other consists of claiming damages for breach of contract and its subsequent termination.

Requirements for a breach of contract to occur

Now, before filing a breach of contract claim, a number of requirements must be met. Let us take a look at them:

  • The contractual relationship between the two parties must be in force, so that damages for breach of contract cannot be claimed if the contract has previously been declared null and void or has already been extinguished.
  • The contract must be reciprocal, i.e. involve two parties. Unilateral contracts, such as gift contracts, do not apply in this way.
  • The aggrieved party must have fulfilled its obligations.
  • The claimed obligations must be due and payable, which means that the deadline for performance has already passed.
  • The non-performance must have been deliberate.

This last point is very important, as it implies that the defaulting party does so knowingly. In this respect, there are three alternatives:

  • Fraud. In order for this to occur, it is necessary that the party in breach does so with premeditation.
  • Negligence or fault. This is the same case as the previous one. That is to say, the non-fulfilment has been carried out without premeditation.
  • Objective liability. The non-performing party has not been negligent or wilful, but is liable for the non-performance.

How to claim damages for breach of contract

It is common to think that the only way to enforce the contract or to claim damages is through the courts. However, this is not the case. The most common is to try to reach an out-of-court settlement, as the time and costs are significantly reduced.

If it is not possible to reach an agreement, it is not uncommon to resort to mediation, i.e. to put the case in the hands of a third party who will take care of resolving the conflict. If this does not work, the only other option is to go to court. Having a lawyer specialised in the matter is essential to defend our interests.

Examples of breaches of contract

Breaches of contract can occur in many different forms and in a wide variety of areas. However, these are the most common.

Rental contracts

This would be the case, for example, of a tenant who fails to pay his rent or who causes damage that cannot be compensated solely by the security deposit paid at the time of signing the lease. The same would also apply to a landlord who does not fulfil his obligations, such as not respecting the duration of the contract or not carrying out proper maintenance on the property.

Employment contracts

Employment contracts are the most obvious examples. We only have to think of a company that decides to unilaterally dismiss an employee and, in order to do so, has to pay him/her a certain amount of compensation.

However, employment contracts have a number of very specific peculiarities, so this article would be more appropriate for breaches of contract between freelancers and independent professionals who provide their services to private users or other companies.

Contracts for the provision of services

It is also common for a private individual to contract a company to carry out a particular service, such as a home repair. If the work is not carried out in a timely manner, it is perfectly possible to sue a company for damages.

However, in the same way, the company can also claim the fulfilment of the contract if the user does not pay the corresponding fees, to which interest for late payment must be added.

In short, breaches of contract can occur for many reasons and in many different ways, as each of them has its own peculiarities. However, in all cases, the injured party has the possibility of claiming that its clauses be complied with or, failing that, of receiving compensation for damages that will serve as compensation. Contact an expert civil law lawyer from our firm if you find yourself in a situation similar to those shown in this article.

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