Construction Law

Understanding a Breach of Contract featured image

Understanding a Breach of Contract

A breach of contract is defined as a violation of a contract that gives the right to the non-breaching party to recover compensation for damages. A contract may be breached by one or both parties, and depending on the nature and details of the breach, may be considered material or non-material. Any contractor who is facing a breach of contract dispute should seek the help of Tampa contractor lawyer immediately.

Material and Non-Material Breach of Contract

Non-Material Breach

A non-material breach is usually considered to be less serious than a material breach of contract. A non-material breach, or “minor breach”, is one which pertains to an inconsequential or ancillary term that does not affect the whole outcome of the contract. For example, if a general contractor were to hire an electrician to install blue, high-quality wiring throughout a building but the contractor instead installed green, high-quality wiring; this would be considered a non-material breach. The difference in the color of the wire does not impact the quality or functionality of the wiring, and while the general contractor may prefer blue wiring, it does not affect the outcome of the contract.

Material Breach

A material breach, also referred to as a total breach, is the more serious breach of the two. A material breach usually involves the failure to perform an essential and significant term or multiple terms of a contract which result in a negative effect on the value of the contract. This type of breach of contract excuses the non-breaching party from their contractual obligations and entitles the non-breaching party to effectively render the contract terminated with immediate effect and sue for damages resulting from the breach.

If we go to our previous example of a non-material breach, and say that instead the electrician was contracted to install high-quality copper wiring, which is known for its reliability and durability and in lieu of the copper wiring installed inexpensive and unreliable, low-quality aluminum wiring; this would be considered a material breach of contract. Because the aluminum wiring is prone to failure and is not of the same level of quality, the intent of the contract (reliability, durability, and quality) has been disregarded.

Because the course of action for both types of breach claims can vary, it is important to know whether a breach of contract is a material or a non-material breach. An experienced Tampa contractor attorney will be able to determine this information based on the details of the case.

What Constitutes a Material Breach?

Factors that constitute a material breach of contract can include:

1) whether the injured party is deprived of the substantial benefit or “the heart” of the contract,
2) the extent of compensation for the non-breaching party,
3) the probability of the breaching party correcting the breach,
4) how much of the contract has been fulfilled despite the breach,
5) if the breaching party’s actions were willful or a result from bad faith or unfair dealing,
6) and the what is outlined as a material breach in the contract.

If you find yourself involved in a breach of contract dispute, regardless of its classification, it is in your best interest to seek the help and advice of a qualified contractor attorney in Tampa. Breach of contract claims, both material and non-material, are often very complicated issues. Each breach of contract case is unique and requires special attention from a contractor attorney who has experience with breach of contract claims.

To speak with a qualified contractor lawyer in Tampa, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.