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Common Defenses in Breach of Contract Litigation

Contracts are at the center of every construction project, they serve both as protection to ensure the project will be completed as they are intended and payments will be served for services provided. There will be times, however, when unforeseeable circumstances can cause a project to not be completed, which often leads to construction litigation. Each party of the contract will have an argument to support or defend their case with a contractor lawyer in Tampa, but there are some common themes that often come up during these proceedings. Our team outlined three common defenses against a breach of contract.

1. Impossibility of Performance

“Impossibility of Performance” simply means that the scope of a construction project could not be executed due to unforeseeable circumstances that arose during the course of a project. In order for this to be a viable defense against breach of contract, your Tampa contractor lawyer must prove that the the contract terms were, in fact, impossible to fulfill as a result of extreme situations such as death or incapacitation, the subject of the contract being destroyed, or inability to perform contractual obligations due to state, county, or federal law.

2. Substantial Completion

Substantial completion, otherwise referred to as substantial performance, is a defense utilized when a contract was so close to being completed that it would be unreasonable for the contractor performing the services not to receive full payment on the contract, pending any damages incurred for non-performance. There are, however, conditions and factors that must be present for substantial completion to be accepted as a defense against breach of contract or to recover payment for incomplete services. The use of the property or subject of the contract must function as agreed upon, as well as some of the following factors:

  1. The percentage of completion on the project verses what was promised in the contract, including construction defects.
  2. The use of the product to the owner, in regards to the completion of the project.
  3. The effect of the non-performance on the use of the property or subject of contract.

It is also important to note that if a willful breach of contract can be proven, substantial completion or substantial performance can not be used as a defense during construction litigation.

3. Unilateral or Mutual Mistakes

In some cases, a contract will be deemed invalid by the courts due to a mistake made by one or both contracted parties. A contract in essence, is an agreement between individuals or entities, so in the case of a mutual mistake, both parties are not clear on the contractual terms. In regards to a unilateral mistake, which involves only one party, the circumstances are much different. It must be proven that the other party purposely caused the mistake, or knew of the mistake and did not bring it to the attention of the other party.

Working with an experienced contractor attorney in Tampa, should prevent contractual mistakes from occurring, but if you entered a contract without representation and believe that you were purposely misled on the terms of the project, this defense may be a viable solution to a breach of contract.

To schedule a consultation with an experienced construction attorney from Trent Cotney, P. A., please call us today at 813.579.3278 or submit our contact request form.

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.

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