Contract Disputes: Everything You Need to Know

A contract is at the center of any commercial partnership. A well-drafted contract should outline the parties’ expectations, explain their duties and obligations and reduce their risk. It is meant to safeguard against numerous potential disagreements which may develop throughout a commercial partnership. Disputes or conflicts (including the interpretation of contractual provisions) can develop in certain instances, even when a legitimate contract exists.

Our team of expert business lawyers at McGuinty Law Offices in Ottawa provides both proactive contract review and drafting services, as well as competent representation of clients engaged in all forms of contractual disputes. We have assisted organizations of all sizes and in various industries in managing possible problems, and when required, addressing them through litigation.

Breach of Contract

When one party fails to fulfill what they committed to do, a contract conflict typically arises. The following are examples of contract breaches:

  • A major breach occurs when one party fails to execute their duties, and the contract is irreparably damaged as a consequence. The party whom this breach has harmed may sue the party who has broken the contract for monetary damages.
  • When the core of the contract is not affected, a minor violation (also known as an “insignificant breach”) occurs. Both parties must still fulfill the contract if there is a minor breach; however, the party who has not breached the agreement may still sue the other for damages.

A breach can occur not only when the contract obligations aren’t executed at all, but also when they are not performed in accordance with the provisions specified and are not finished on time.

In the event of a contract breach, one or both parties may sue for monetary damages and/or to have the contract’s terms legally enforced. Ideally, issues should be settled through mediation before a lawsuit is filed. Another kind of alternative conflict resolution is binding arbitration.

Common remedies for breach of contract include:

  • Specific performance
  • Cancellation and restitution
  • Damages

The most frequent breach of contract remedy is monetary damages which may include:

  • Compensatory damages intended to put the aggrieved person back in their position before the violation
  • Punitive damages in excess of complete restitution for wrongdoing
  • Nominal damages where there is no demonstrable financial loss as a result of a violation
  • Liquidated damages expressly stated in a contract agreement

Specific performance occurs when a court compels the party who has violated the contract to execute its requirements, which is usually issued when damages are inadequate. After terminating the contract, the harmed party can also claim reparation.

Common Types of Contract Disputes

Contracts are only legal if they involve an accepted offer as well as some kind of payment (consideration) for the goods or services obtained. Disputes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Breach of contract
  • Offer and acceptance
  • Coercion or fraud
  • Definition of a technical term used
  • Errors in the contract
  • Contract drafting and review

Remedies for Contract Disputes

Contract disputes are usually resolved through a combination of equitable and legal means. The latter is often in the form of monetary compensation for the plaintiff’s losses. Equitable remedies compel the parties to take steps to address their differences.

Avoiding Contract Disputes

Disputes are less likely to arise when both parties are clear on the contract’s terms. To avoid future problems, take these procedures before entering into a contract:

  • Document all contract interactions in writing throughout the process, including offer history, quantities, price, and other terms and conditions.
  • Be clear about the contract’s goals and be ready to articulate key areas.
  • Check terms and conditions every time a contract is updated, and take extra precautions when dealing with a new negotiator or changing product specifications.
  • Clarify the meanings of industrial terminology, legal terms and other jargon to avoid confusion.
  • Consult with an expert contract lawyer who can help you with the negotiating process.

Why Choose McGuinty Law Offices?

Contact McGuinty Law Offices in Ottawa for contract assistance and advice, as well as expert representation for any disputes which may occur. Our team of professional litigators are well-experienced and have battled successfully for our client’s rights throughout the years. Our outstanding track record speaks for itself. For a consultation, please call (613) 526-3858 or contact us online at