A breach of contract occurs when a party to an agreement violates one or more of its terms. A breach may be something minor, such as a late payment, or something more serious, such as failing to deliver a required item. If applicable, a party accused of breach may assert one or more contract breach defenses. In this article, we examine several common contract breach defenses.
Fraud in the Inducement
One common defense to a breach of contract claim is that the non-breaching party deceived the breaching party into entering the agreement. This is called fraud in the inducement. A party that successfully proves fraud in the inducement in court will not be held liable for a breach of contract claim.
If unforeseen circumstances make it impossible for a party to fulfill the terms of a contract, this serves as a valid breach of contract claim defense. This breach of contract defense, which is called impossibility of performance, means that an unforeseen circumstance, such as incapacity, an act of God, or property destruction render performance of one or more contractual requirements impossible.
Statute of Limitations Expiration
A statute of limitations is a law that establishes a deadline for filing some type of legal action. When one party files a breach of contract action against another outside of the applicable statute of limitation, the breaching party can use the other party’s failure to file a timely claim as a defense. A few key statutes of limitation in Florida include:
- One year for specific action contracts
- Four years for oral contracts
- Five years for written agreements
Another common breach of contract defense in Florida is duress. A party who signs an agreement under duress does so against his or her will. So, if a party is forced to sign an agreement against his or her will, then that party may raise a duress defense in court.
If contracting parties enter an agreement based on a mistake about its terms, then the breaching party may raise mutual mistake as a defense to a breach of contract action.
Finally, if one contracting party accuses the other of breach, but the party who filed the lawsuit failed to perform under the terms of the agreement, then the breaching party may raise this as a defense to a breach of contract action. This is known as an unclean hands defense.
Contact a Florida Civil Litigation Attorney
Gueronniere, P.A. is a Florida law firm that provides our clients with personalized legal services. Founded by Florida civil litigation attorney Grace de la Gueronniere, our experienced lawyer aims to provide excellent legal services to clients in Wellington, Florida, and throughout the state of Florida. If you require assistance with your civil litigation needs, please contact us to schedule a free consultation with our talented Florida attorney.