Remedies for Breach of Contract — Damages

If you have a valid agreement or contract (the terms are really interchangeable) the person suing (called the plaintiff) may only win “Expectation Damages”. In other words, in contract you get the benefit of the bargain. This is the amount of money that would make you whole if the deal had been carried out as expected and agreed upon by the parties. For instance – you agree to buy my lawnmower for $100, but I break the deal and sell it to my other neighbor. You would get the benefit of the bargain or $100.

Example of Contract Damages

But let’s say the lawnmower was worth $300 and I just wanted to get rid of it so I sold it to my other neighbor for $200. The value to you would be $300! Because for your $100, you were going to get a $300 item.

In some cases, you can also get damages for “reasonably foreseeable” damages not directly related to the bargain. For instance, let’s say you are in the market for a mower, because you are in the business. I offer to sell and you agree to buy, and you inform me that you are cancelling the purchase of another mower. You thank me profusely because you have two weeks’ worth of jobs that are due. I don’t sell and you have to go get the $300 mower and you also miss out on a week of jobs. The mower price is clearly part of the breach, but the week of missed jobs might also be part of it.

What about other damages?

Sorry, you generally do not get “pain and suffering” known as “general damages” or punitive damages for contractual remedies. Sometimes – but rarely – you can also get your attorney fees paid by the other side. It might be in your contract.

For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.

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Consideration in Contracts

A big issue in contracts is that there must be “consideration” given to make a contract enforceable. This is what makes a difference between an enforceable contract and an unenforceable promise. (Of course, you should keep your word, but sometimes the Court will not enforce it.)

Consideration is the exchange of something for the promise. So, for instance, you may have made a down-payment on a car or house. That payment would likely be valid consideration to make the deal valid. But, you could also exchange promises. For instance, “I agree to sell you this lawnmower for $100, if you agree to wash my car by the end of the day tomorrow.” The mutual promises – if agreed to – would be enough to have a valid agreement.

For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.

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Offer and acceptance; mutual assent

A contract is formed when there is a valid offer, and a valid acceptance. To be valid, an offer does not have to be exact or precise, but needs only to be reasonable under the circumstances. Likewise, an acceptance does not have to be a formal written acknowledgement (unless the offer specifically required it.)

The key here is mutual assent – did both parties agree to the essence of the deal? If so, a contract was likely formed. If not, either because of a mistake of fact or law, it may be impossible to enforce the contract.

Sometimes my clients are thrown off because the deal was not in writing. That may not matter – oral contracts may be binding. (Of course, proof will be an issue!) In some cases, a contract is invalid unless it is in writing. But, don’t think that means it has to be spelled out exactly. I had one contract that was held enforceable when it was simply a chain of emails. There was no agreement on some issues, but the essence of the deal was in the email, and the Court held it to be enforceable.

For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.

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What is a contract in Connecticut?

What is a contract in Connecticut? Connecticut is like most other places in the United States: a contract is an agreement between private parties creating mutual obligations enforceable by law. Contracts can be oral (in many cases) or written. A contract can even be implied.

The basic elements required for a contract to be valid are: mutual assent, expressed by a valid offer and acceptance; adequate consideration; capacity; and legality. Remedies for breach of contract include general damages, consequential damages, reliance damages, and specific performance.
Contracts are simply promises enforceable by the law.

Contract law is generally governed by the state Common Law, and general contract law principles are common throughout the country. (In fact, many of our contract principles are quite similar to England and other nations.)

For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.

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