When a party to a contract “breaches” it, something that was supposed to happen didn’t. It’s basically a broken promise. The construction contractor building your home didn’t complete it on time or substituted materials you specifically rejected. Maybe you didn’t pay the amount you agreed upon. In an investment dispute, perhaps your financial advisor bought or sold stocks without your approval, despite a contractual requirement that she call you to discuss such issues.
We enter a large number of contracts in our daily lives, and when we do, we agree to either perform or refrain from certain behaviors. So, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a breach of contract dispute.
Your lease? That’s a contract, and you can breach it by having an unauthorized roommate, making structural changes to the apartment without authorization, failing to pay on time, or vacating the premises before your lease expires.
Your gym membership? It’s governed by a contract that probably requires you to pay a monthly or annual fee, wear certain attire, and use the equipment safely. If you don’t, you might breach the contract, which could allow the gym to cancel your membership. Likewise, even if you stop going, the gym can typically continue to collect payment from you. Otherwise, you might have breached the contract, and you could be sued for the remaining amount of money that would have been collected for your membership period. (It works a lot like your lease.)
The vendor who provides you accounting, bookkeeping, design, or other services? You have to pay according to the terms of the contract (a/k/a agreement), and they have to provide the services they promised to. Either one of you could also breach the contact by disclosing confidential information you agreed to protect.
The good news is that not every contract dispute has to go to court. Your contract might have a dispute resolution clause that mandates mediation, arbitration, or a process that includes both before a lawsuit is filed. You can also elect an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) process in most cases.
NOTE: This post is a general overview of the defenses to workers’ compensation (“WC”) penalties for failure to secure WC insurance. It is not legal advice, and there is certainly no guarantee that any of the actions detailed above will generate a similar or specific result. Past success is never a guarantee of a future outcome. If you require information or advice applied to your unique situation, please make an appointment to discuss it with an attorney. Don’t rely solely on what you read on the Internet.
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Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).