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Some common defenses to breach of contract claims

Many of our blog posts have focused on breach of contract issues through the lens of those who feel like they've been wronged by another party to the agreement. While these considerations are certainly important, so, too, is understanding how to defend against allegations of breach.

After all, many Baton Rouge-area businesses are accused of failing to live up to their contractual obligations. If they don't adequately defend themselves, then they may be facing serious financial judgments and damage to their reputation and credibility. So, let's take a quick minute to look at some of the most common defenses that can be utilized in a breach of contract case.

There are many defenses to breach of contract allegations, but a few stand out. For example, one can defend against a claim of breach by arguing mutual mistake, meaning that the parties to the contract had an understanding about a material term of the contract that wasn't reflected in the contract itself. This can be seen in a variety of contexts, such as when the parties thought a particular delivery date of goods controlled the contract but the written agreement contains a different date.

Another common defense to a breach of contract claim is unilateral mistake. Here, one party mistakes a material term of the agreement, such as how a particular term is defined. Since a unilateral mistake can create an unfair advantage in business dealings, a contract may be rescinded if a unilateral mistake can be shown.

Yet another common defense is accord and satisfaction. This occurs when one party accepts performance of the contract or a substitute to the performance. Therefore, if a party agrees to accept a lesser amount of money than specified in a contract, or goods of another type in exchange for performance, then that party will not be able to claim breach of contract for the difference between the accepted payment and the amount specified in the contract.

This is a very broad overview of just a few of the defenses that can be utilized in breach of contract cases. Those who have been accused of breach of contract may want to speak with their attorneys to figure out the best way to defend themselves.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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