Contract disputes typically concern one or more of the following topics:
- Was a contract formed?That is: (a) were there parties capable of contracting? (b) did they consent? (c) did their agreement have a lawful object? (d) was their agreement supported by consideration? The issue of consent is sometimes is phrased as whether the parties had a “meeting of the minds.” If one party to agreed to the contract only because the other party made a fraudulent statement going to an important point, that party’s consent was not freely given, and the contract is voidable at the option of the defrauded party.
- What are the contract terms?The law, and the courts, strive to enforce the actual agreement of the parties. The court wants to determine what was the mutual intention of the parties and to enforce that agreement (not to make a new agreement for the parties). If the parties’ language was ambiguous, the court will try to resolve the ambiguity by applying certain rules of interpretation. One of those is that ambiguities are interpreted against the party responsible for the ambiguity.
- Was the contract breached?Did a party to the contract fail to perform a promise? Was that breach material or immaterial?
- Did the breach cause harm?
- What is the measure of that harm?Can that harm be remedied at law by an award of damages (and if so, what is the amount of that damage) or should some equitable relief be employed to remedy the harm (either instead of or in addition to an award of damages)?