Entering a contractual agreement with another party is a serious business relationship that either party should not take lightly. Unfortunately, there are several cases where one party does not meet their end of the deal, breaching the agreed-upon terms. Knowing your defenses to breach of contract can protect you in these types of instances.
If this happens to you, or if someone claims you’ve breached a contract, there are several defenses to breach of contract that you can use to defend your position. Continue reading below to learn about these different defenses and who you can reach out to for more information.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract is when someone in the agreement violates any of the agreed-upon terms set out in the contract. The breach can be something such as a late payment to something as serious as failing to deliver a promised item.
What Are Affirmative Defenses to Breach of Contract?
In Florida law, there are several different defenses to breach of contract, known as affirmative defenses, which is your response to the lawsuit. Your affirmative defense may excuse or justify the reason the lawsuit is based upon.
For example, your business attorney can raise an “unclean hands” defense that argues the person bringing the lawsuit acted in a way that should preclude anything you’ve done. It also states the reason why your actions were warranted. If you raise an affirmative case, you and your legal team take on the burden of proving why.
How to Prove a Breach of Contract
In order to prove that there was a breach of contract in your Florida law agreement, there are three elements that a party must prove.
The three elements of a breach of contract:
- There was a contract in place
- A party broke a contractual promise
- The broken promise caused damage to the other party
In order to win a breach of contract case, the lawsuit must prove all three elements. As a defendant, you only need to prove one of those elements wasn’t satisfied.
In Florida, you, the defendant, have twenty days to file a response. The ball returns to the plaintiff’s court if you deny the breach of contract claims made. This means they must prove their case.
Common Defenses of Breach of Contract
As mentioned earlier, several different defenses are available for you to defend your case. A few common defenses to breach of contract used are the impossibility of performance and fraud in the inducement.
Impossibility of Performance
Impossibility of performance means that one party could not complete their task or end of the deal due to an unforeseen circumstance. This could be an act of God, property destruction, or incapacity.
Many other unforeseen circumstances could arise that may have caused you to not meet your end of the contractual agreement. Make sure you reach out to your business attorney for more information on what would warrant an impossibility of performance defenses of breach of contract.
Fraud in the Inducement Defenses of Breach of Contract
Fraud in the inducement means that one party was deceived into entering the agreement, but the agreement was not in their best interest. If you can prove that the other party coerced you into signing into the agreement, you could raise this defense.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitation is a common defense used when someone tries to make a breach of contract claim against you, but they did not report it within the allotted time. If they make a claim, even a day after the contract expires, their claim is null and void.
Statute of limitations in Florida:
- Oral contracts: four years
- Written agreements: five years
- Specific action contracts: one year
If you have someone making a claim against you, but they made a claim after any of those above-listed timelines, make sure you reach out to your attorney. They can raise statute of limitation breach of contract defenses on your behalf.
Duress Defenses of Breach of Contract
In the event that someone made you sign an agreement against your will, you can raise a duress defense. Of course, you will need proof that someone held you against their will, or else this claim is void.
If the parties who entered into the agreement were mistaken about the terms of the contract, you could raise a mutual mistakes defense. This is also known as unilateral mistake breach of contract defenses.
As mentioned earlier, an affirmative defense you can use is unclean hands. This means that the other party bringing up the claim is not entitled to any payment because they did something wrong. An unclean hands defense can highlight that the other party failed to perform under the contract terms or they committed a crime of some sort.
Do I Need a Business Attorney?
Although you don’t necessarily need an attorney to defend your case, you should at least reach out to one for a free consultation. When you partner with a reputable attorney, you have a better chance of winning your breach of contract case. This is because a business attorney is very familiar with how contracts work and the proper defenses needed to protect you and your business.
Florida Law Business Attorneys
There are several different defenses to breach of contract that you can raise in the event that someone claims you breached a contractual agreement. Going at this alone is not a good idea, especially if you are unsure what you’re getting into.
To best protect your business’s interest and reputation, you may want to consider reaching out to a knowledgeable business lawyer. If you are facing a breach of contract lawsuit and need help making sense of what is going on, contact us for a case evaluation.