Contract Disputes Expertise
The types of contractual disputes we frequently help our clients with include:
Breach of Contract
If one party does not keep to their side of the bargain, and another party suffers loss as a result, then a breach of contract claim may be made. There could be a breach of the express terms of a contract, and in some circumstances, there could be a breach of implied terms of the contract.
Our team can advise you as to the best course of action and the merits of any potential claim to ensure maximum recovery for you and your business.
Remedies for Breach of Contract
There is a wide range of remedies available for breach of contract claims, the principal remedy is an award of damages to compensate for the loss. There are also various non-compensatory damages available in certain prescribed circumstances.
The quantification of damages can be a tricky concept. Our specialist solicitors will set out the remedies available to you and offer guidance on how you can achieve the best possible outcome. We will assess the value of your claim, or your potential liability (if a claim is being brought against you).
We will also advise you on your likelihood of recovering your legal costs at the earliest opportunity.
Void and Unenforceable Contracts
Disputes often arise over the enforceability of a contract or a specific term in a contract. Our team will advise you on the efficacy of your claim at the earliest opportunity to ensure minimal disruption to your business activities.
Termination and Discharge of Contracts
A contract may be terminated in accordance with contractual provisions, for breach and for certain other events. Legislation may also affect rights to terminate a contract, ie. under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
If you suspect the other party to have committed an act which entitles you to terminate your agreement, is crucial that you obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our team will advise you on your ability to terminate, as wrongful termination could lead to a claim against you.
Conversely, you can lose the right to terminate a contract if you continue to perform your obligations after the event.
Restitution and Unjust Enrichment
Restitution is a remedy that aims to restore to an innocent party any gains that someone else has obtained from them.
One such restitution claim would be for ‘unjust enrichment’. This claim is available in certain circumstances, such as where you have paid money to another party by mistake or where money or assets wrongfully remain in a party’s possession at the conclusion of a transaction.
Myerson can advise you on the merits of such a claim and offer support at every step of the way in an area of great legal complexity.
Sale of Goods and Supply of Services
Where there is a contract of this nature between two businesses, certain legislation can imply terms into the contract.
These terms focus on the nature and quality of the goods and services provided. If you have received a supply of defective products or suffered loss as a result of poor service then you may have a valid claim under one of these implied terms.
Such examples may be the delivery of a defective consignment which means you are unable to perform a contract with a customer or a loss of profit due to an inability to open the premises as a result of defective plumbing or cleaning services.
Our team can assist you in determining the validity of your claim and setting out which remedies are available to you. We will then assist you through the litigation process to ensure that you recover any loss suffered as promptly as possible.
Frustration and force majeure, cancelled, late, extended or deferred delivery and suspension of contract performance
In the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many parties will be seeking to suspend, extend or cancel their contractual obligations. There are a number of ways in which a contract may be terminated in unforeseen circumstances.
For example, a contract is ‘frustrated’ (and therefore terminated) when an event occurs that makes it impossible for a party to fulfil its contractual obligations, or those obligations become radically different to those originally agreed.
Similarly, your contract may contain a ‘Force majeure’ provision. Depending on the specific wording of the contract, these provisions generally allow for the suspension or termination of the contract due to an event beyond the control of either party.
At Myerson, we will identify the parties’ contractual obligations at the commencement of the contract and assess how the particular event in question alters them.
We will then advise on your ability to make a claim or, as the case may be, advise on the validity of the other party’s claim.
Delivery disputes arising from a shortage of raw materials or shortage or unavailability of labour
Another likely effect of the Covid-19 outbreak is the adverse impact on the speed and efficiency of supply chains. Suppliers risk being unable to meet their contractual obligations and their customers will suffer loss as a result.
Some contracts include a disclaimer or similar provision exonerating any party of its obligations where there are widespread shortages of labour or raw materials.
Our team will carry out an in-depth expert analysis of the contractual terms, including any force majeure and frustration provisions mentioned above, to advise parties as to when such provisions can be invoked.
Retention of title and storage of third-party goods
If you supply goods to a party on credit and that customer does not pay pursuant to the contract, you will not be able to recover these goods unless your terms and conditions contains a retention of title clause.
A retention of title clause will state that the supplier will retain ownership of the goods and until payment is received from the customer. It will also give suppliers the right to recover the goods once payment is overdue.
Enforcing these clauses can be fraught with difficulties, particularly where these goods have been transferred to a third party for storage purposes or to fulfil the recipient’s own contractual obligations. Fortunately, our specialist team is there to assist you in every step of the process to ensure that you recover the maximum amount.
Quantum meruit claims for part delivered contracts
Sometimes, when goods or services are supplied to customers, there is no agreed written contract and thus no fixed price for the provision of such goods and services.
For example, there may be a framework in place, containing some contractual terms but silent on essential provisions such as price and goods or services supplied.
Unfortunately, customers can attempt to exploit the lack of contractual certainty by failing to recompense the supplier.
In certain circumstances, suppliers who have suffered loss can bring an action in ‘quantum meruit’ for a reasonable sum for the goods and/or services supplied.
These type of claims are subject to strict criteria, we can advise you promptly and comprehensively as to the validity of your claim and assist you throughout the litigation process.
Customers in administration and lifting the moratorium
Liquidity is one of the principal concerns facing the business community in these unprecedented times. Unfortunately, large numbers of businesses may enter administration due to the impact of Covid-19.
This can prove problematic where a company is owed money by another company which has gone into administration.
This is because companies in administration enjoy the benefit of a ‘moratorium’, which is a suspension of each creditor’s ability to issue or continue proceedings against the company or its assets for the duration of the administration process.
It is possible under certain circumstances for creditors to continue or commence proceedings against a company with the consent of the administrator or by applying to the Court to ‘lift the moratorium’.
At Myerson, we have advised a wide range of clients in relation to such claims and have the technical expertise and excellent track record that is required to assist creditors in maximising their recovery.