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Issues that can cloud breach of contract claims

Previously this New Jersey business law blog discussed the offer and acceptance process that generally precedes the creation of a contract. Whether the agreement is for a lease, a purchase or an affiliation of entities for a corporate merger, the contract must abide by the fundamental principles of contract creation. At its basic level, one party must make an offer, to which a second party must accept and agree to provide consideration for the performance of the agreed to event.

When a party to a contract believes that another bound by the same agreement has failed to perform as expected, then the complaining party may allege that there has been a breach of contract. A breach of contract can be material -- or fatal -- to the contract, or it may only involve a minor portion of the overall agreement. Proving a breach of contract claim can sometimes be challenging, and this post will look at some of the issues that can make breach of contract claims hard to prove.

In some cases, a party accused of breaching a contract may claim that no contract ever existed. The party may state that no acceptance was given or no consideration provided. A party may also concede that a contract was created but could claim that a modification to the agreement makes the claim of breach a moot point.

Additionally, a party accused of breaching a contract may not contest the allegedly breaching action but may assert that such action was in fact anticipated by the contract. Such a party may also attempt to exercise a defense to its actions that could justify or explain away the breach.

Breach of contract cases are not always straightforward. The specific language of an agreement will often play a role in whether a court finds a breach in the parties' agreement. One of the best ways that a party may prevent a later breach of contract claim is to have a contract attorney review the agreement before the person signs it to screen for potentially troublesome terms.

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