wikiHow to Determine Breach of Contract

A breach of contract is a failure to do what one has agreed to do in a contract. A failure to perform duties in a contract is the triggering force behind many lawsuits. Common examples of breach of contract include a homeowner’s failure to make a mortgage payment, a caterer’s failure to bring food to an event, or a celebrity’s failure to show up at an event. All of the following steps must be proven to the court’s satisfaction in order to win a breach of contract case.


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    Prove both parties actually entered into the contract.
    • If the contract is in writing, this step requires that you to produce the contract. You must also show that both parties agreed to the contract. This step is easy to accomplish if both parties signed a written contract.
    • If the contract was entered into orally, this step is often difficult to accomplish, as the breaching party may not remember the terms of the contract the same way as the suing party. Additionally, evidence of the oral contract, for example a tape recording of the conversation, may not be admissible in court as proof of the contract if the recording was made without the other party’s consent. The laws pertaining to what evidence is admissible in court varies from state to state, so check with a lawyer in your area if this is a concern.
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    Show that you upheld your duties under the contract. Courts will not find that a party breached a contract until the breaching party actually had a chance to perform his or her duties under the contract. For example, assume that A entered into a contract with B for B to repair A’s car at B’s facility. If A never delivers his car to B’s facility, A will be unsuccessful in a lawsuit against B because A did not perform his duties under the contract.
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    Demonstrate that the breaching party failed to do something that he or she was required to do under the terms of the contract. A failure to perform can be shown in several ways:
    • The party can simply not perform his or her duties under the contract,
    • The party can make it clear that he or she does not intend to perform under the contract, or
    • The party can make it impossible for the other party to perform his or her duties under the contract.
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    Show that you were harmed due to the breach of contract. The party suing for breach of contract must show that due to the breach, he or she was harmed in some way.
    • The harm that is sustained in a contract case is usually in the form of a monetary loss or some other type of loss. In the above car repair example, if A had delivered his car to B’s shop to be repaired and B refused to repair the car, B’s loss would be his car not being repaired.
    • Note that showing harm caused by a breach of contract is not the same as calculating damages. In proving harm, you are showing that the effect of the breach of contract caused something adverse to happen. Calculating damages happens after you determine whether there was a breach of contract.


  • Always reduce an agreement to a signed writing in order to be able to prove that the agreement exists. Oral agreements are extremely difficult, if not impossible to prove.
  • Keep contracts in a safe place, so that they can be produced in the event of a lawsuit.

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Categories: Contracts and Legal Agreements