In the construction industry, no matter how solid the contract is or how on track the project may seem, there is always the chance that breach of contract will occur. When dealing with a breach of contract, contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers will have the chance to defend their breach, and it’s recommended to seek the counsel of Jacksonville construction lawyers when dealing with these cases. In this article, we will be discussing the contract breach defense of unilateral or mutual mistakes.
In some cases of this defense, a contract can be deemed invalid by the courts because of a mistake that was made by one or both of the parties involved in the contract. A construction contract is a written agreement between parties, so in the event of a mutual mistake, both of the parties are not clear in the contractual agreement.
When a contractor is looking at timing to bring a claim, a mutual mistake can be brought to a court after the contract was entered into. For a contractor to be successful in this contract defense, they must be able to prove:
- The contract did not put the risk of the mistake on the party that was seeking information
- The mistake had a material effect on the contract
- The contracted parties were mistaken in their believes about a fact
Unilateral mistakes, unlike mutual mistakes, only involve one of the parties, making the circumstances much different. If a contractor is facing a dilemma where their opposing party is the one causing the unilateral mistake, they must be able to prove that the other party purposely caused the mistake, or in the least were aware of the mistake and did not inform the other party (the contractor) of the error.
Contractors can make an unilateral mistake when they turn in their government proposals. There are times that these mistakes are so large that the government should have stepped in to point it out to the contractor, and if they did not do this, the contractor could potentially be entitled to a post-award contract reformation. To show a unilateral mistake, a contractor must demonstrate:
- The mistake was a clear-cut, clerical, or a mathematical error and not a judgement error
- The mistake occurred prior to the contract award
- Before the award, the government knew that a unilateral mistake had been made and should have attempted to request bid verification
- Proof of the intended bid was established
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.