Breach of contract attorneys in Los Angeles handle a variety of lawsuits and the majority of business litigation matters. A breach of contract lawsuit can involve any type of business and most types of disputes. Breach of contract covers breach of lease between a landlord and a tenant, breach of partnership agreement between partners, breach of purchase and sale agreement involving a business or a piece of property, breach of contract for a non-payment and so much more. Because businesses often use contracts to memorialize everything that they have agreed on between themselves, contracts are an integral part of business. Breach of contract litigation can involve all types of contracts–a one hundred page contract carefully drafted by a team of lawyers, a one page contract handwritten by one of the parties, an oral contract agreed to with a handshake or even just a long standing practice of how things are done with no writing whatsoever. A breach of contract attorney knows that there are basic requirements for a breach of contract lawsuit regardless of what form of contract is at issue.
The Essential Elements of a Contract
An experienced breach of contract attorney will first look to see whether a potential claim includes the basic elements of a contract. A contract must include parties capable of contracting, the consent of those parties, a lawful object and a sufficient cause of consideration. (These requirements are set forth in the California Civil Code sections dealing with contracts. Business litigation attorneys in Los Angeles should make sure that they are conversant with these Civil Code sections.)
In California all persons are capable of contracting except minors, persons of unsound mind and persons deprived of civil rights. In business litigation the capacity of the people entering into a business agreement is usually not an issue. However, a common mistake in business litigation is not making the contract with or suing the proper party. Litigation attorneys should check the California Secretary of State’s business portal website to make sure that a company actually exists as an entity and is in good standing. People and companies often used unregistered “doing business as” names but a contract should be with the actual person or entity.
Breach of contract litigation may also involve questions of consent. Did both parties sign the contract? While a contract may exist even without a signed writing, it may make the litigation more difficult. In real estate litigation a signed writing may be required. Consent must be free, mutual and communicated by each party to the other. Consent is not free when it is obtained through duress, menace, fraud, undue influence or mistake.
While usually not an issue, the object of the contract must be lawful.
Even business litigation attorneys get confused over the concept of consideration. Consideration refers to a benefit conferred on another which the other person is not lawfully entitled to or any prejudice suffered (in a legal sense). In easy to understand terms, consideration differentiates a contract from a gift. Consideration can be minimal and it is not usually an issue in business matters.
Breach of Contract Lawsuits
Breach of contract attorneys handle the lawsuits that arise out of contracts. In the Los Angeles Superior Court and other Southern California courts, a trial attorney who handles breach of contract lawsuits must plead and prove the required elements of a breach of contract case: A contract exists. The plaintiff performed his, her or its part of the contract (or was somehow excused from performance). The defendant breached the contract. And the plaintiff was damaged by the breach.
Every breach of contract lawsuit must prove these elements.
There may also be related causes of action which an breach of contract attorney will allege in the same lawsuit. These can include interference with contract against third parties who intentionally sought to disrupt and existing contract between the plaintiff and someone else. Another related cause of action is interference with prospective economic advantage, which is a broader tort encompassing intentional interference with another’s business relationship.
Legal Issues, Factual Issues or Both
A big determining factor in how complex a breach of contract lawsuit will be is whether the dispute centers around factual disputes or legal disputes. A legal dispute would be a disagreement over how to interpret the contract. This is a matter to be determined by the judge and can usually be decided upon motion for summary judgment or in a short court trial. A breach of contract trial can become more complicated, however, when there is a factual dispute over what actually happened that gave rise to the dispute. This can be resolved through either a court or jury trial and may involve much more pre-trial discovery and a longer trial.
Breach of contract attorneys in Los Angeles should be able to advise you on the strategy required to win or resolve a breach of contract lawsuit.
Breach of contract attorney Los Angeles: Laine Wagenseller is the founder of downtown Los Angeles law firm Wagenseller Law Firm. Mr. Wagenseller has handled numerous trials and lawsuits involving a variety of breach of contract issues. For more information please contact Wagenseller Law Firm at (213) 286-0371.