Business Contract Disputes: Know When to Call a Lawyer

by Karla Somers on July 29, 2012

Men ArguingBusiness contracts provide a form of private law by which various parties must abide. These contracts represent an understanding between two parties on the duties and responsibilities that they are to carry out. In a perfect world, business entities would respect contracts and fulfill their obligations. In the real business world, this does not happen. There are times when one party or another decides to breach a contract for either a legitimate or illegitimate reason. It is important to have strong legal council at your side if this happens. A good lawyer can help you understand the best way to protect your contracts.

How to Know When You Need a Lawyer

The first thing is to understand the need for an attorney. If you were a construction company facing a dispute in NYC, then you might hire a New York construction lawyer very early in the process. The best policy is to get in touch with legal council as soon as something seems wrong with your contract, whether it be a suspected concern or an actual violation. There are options for parties that are concerned with a breach of contract.

It is also important to find an attorney that is knowledgeable about any specific laws that may apply to your industry. For example if you are in the building industry on Long Island, you would want to find the best construction attorney New York has to offer. Perhaps you operate a hair salon, a daycare center, a restaurant or a landscaping business. No matter where your business is located, look for an attorney who specializes in contracts for your profession to get the best legal advice possible.

How Can Legal Council Help in Business Contract Disputes?

You might be wondering how legal council can help in these situations. A good lawyer can bring a lot to the table. He or she can provide you with strategic direction on how to handle your specific case. There are lots of different options when you find yourself facing a contract dispute. You might be able to work out a deal with the breaching party. You might have to protect your rights through litigation. A good attorney will advise you on the best way to proceed.

Legal council can also fight for your rights in court. If litigation is necessary, your lawyer will argue on your behalf. According to the legal team of Canfield, Madden & Ruggiero, in addition to reviewing your business contract for clarity of terms and provisions, an experienced contract lawyer also provides “extensive dispute resolution services when amicable resolution of disagreements cannot be avoided.”

He or she can go through the process of filing the necessary motions in order to get whatever damages might be due. Perhaps you lost a significant sum of money as a result of the breached contract. An experienced attorney can help you recover those damages.

In other cases, you might be able to compel specific performance. Under this doctrine, the opposing party may be forced to do something to uphold their end of the contract. In land sales, for instance, the courts can require a party to relinquish a property, as provisioned in the original agreement.

Understanding the Concept of Mitigation

Even when the other party has breached a contract, you have a duty to mitigate your damages. For example, if a party breaches the contract on a lease, you cannot simply allow your property to sit idle. You have to make reasonable efforts to get a new tenant into the property. This concept is one that can often get tricky. This is why contacting an attorney early in the process is the right move.

Contract disputes can be difficult to understand. A business owner must know when to contact an attorney. As with most things, contacting an attorney earlier is always better than waiting until the contract dispute has escalated to multiple offenses. Many law practices offer a free consultation, so if you suspect a problem, give an attorney a call to discuss your issues. Asking questions about your situation can avoid trouble in the long run, and determine if you need to take legal action before it’s too late.

Karla M. Somers is a former mediator for the state of New York. She is a contributing author for the law firm of Canfield, Madden & Ruggiero which specializes in recovering outstanding financial and contractual rights for small businesses and construction companies.

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