Reed Bloodworth, managing partner of Bloodworth Law in Orlando, Florida, addresses breaches of contract and defenses to breach of contract in Florida.
Breach of Contract and Defense to Breach of Contract in Florida
What’s a Contract?
Some of the first issues to address are well, what’s a contract? A contract is a fairly simple instrument.
A contract requires:
- It requires an offer
- It requires acceptance, and
- It requires consideration–which is the item or thing that is bargained for between the parties
Next, a breach of contract…what’s that mean? Well, a breach of contract means there was:
- A valid contract
- That a valid contract was breached by one of the parties
- This means one of the parties didn’t fully perform his or her duties pursuant to the contract
- And, as a result of that breach, that a party suffered damages.
- Typically these damages are monetary in nature
Florida Defenses to a Breach of Contract
So, what are defenses to a breach of contract? Well, in Florida there are many types of defenses to breach of contract. I’m going to address several of them. Please understand there are many, many potential defenses to breach of contract claim. Here’s some of the most common ones.
The Statute of Limitations
First is the statute of limitations. Statute of limitations means a party has a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit within the State of Florida. For a breach of contract, that statute of limitation is either five or four years.
Written Contract 5 Years, Verbal Contract 4 Years
If there’s a written contract the parties seeking to enforce their claim has five years to bring that cause of action. If it’s a verbal contract they only have four years.
If the party does not file a lawsuit within the described time period then they’ve lost the ability to enforce that contract.
Was the Contract Legal?
The second defense is was the contract illegal? In Florida, you cannot contract to do an illegal act. Occasionally people will contract for certain things that turn out to be illegal. Therefore if a party does not fully perform under that contract it turns out that’s okay because it’s a valid defense that the contract was illegal.
The next very common defense is fraudulent inducement. Fraudulent inducement means that during the course of negotiations one party was not honest with the other party and they said things perhaps things that were false that were lies in order to get the order party to enter into the contract with them. If this happened that is a valid defense to a breach of contract case. It’s called fraudulent inducement.
The Statute of Frauds: Contracts in Writing
Next, a very, very common defense for breach of contract is the statute of frauds. The statute of frauds is a doctrine that in some states, certain contracts must be in writing and if these types of contracts are not in writing they’re unenforceable.
Contracts That Must Be in Writing
- Real Estate
- Contracts Over 1 Year
Contracts That Are Specific Execution
Some of the contracts that have to be in writing include:
- Contracts pertaining to real estate
- Contracts whose performance will take longer than one year
- Contracts that are for above a certain amount of money
- And contracts that have to be executed in a certain way
So those are some of the common statute of fraud defenses that can be asserted.
Unilateral Mistakes and Mutual Mistakes
The next type of defense involves mistake. You have unilateral mistakes and mutual mistakes.
What this means is a contract cannot be breached if the parties that entered into the contract did not understand the terms to the contract.
This can take place—unilateral–meaning one of the parties to the contract did not understand. Or, mutual–meaning both sides to the contract did not understand the terms.
Impossibility of Performance
Finally, a very common defense in Florida is impossibility. Impossibility of performance means that due to completely unforeseen circumstances, such as a death, or incapacity, or perhaps a property destruction, the contract cannot be completed. This is a valid defense to a breach of contract action. As I stated, there are many other defenses to breach of contract actions but these are some of the most common ones.
I hope that this information was helpful. At Bloodworth Law, we represent plaintiffs and defendants in many types of civil litigation, trust litigation and probate litigation.
At Bloodworth Law, we travel throughout the I-4 corridor and this means we come to our clients and we take care of cases in courts close to our clients.
Again, my name’s Reed Bloodworth the managing partner at Bloodworth Law. Give me a call. Let’s talk about what happened to you.