What is a Breach of Contract?
Legally, one party’s failure to fulfill any of its contractual obligations is known as a “breach” of the contract. Depending on the specifics, a breach can occur when a party fails to perform on time, does not perform in accordance with the terms of the agreement, or does not perform at all. Accordingly, a breach of contract will usually be categorized as either “material” or “immaterial” for purposes of determining the appropriate legal solution or “remedy” for the breach.
Breach of Contract: An Example
Let’s assume that R. Runner contracts with Acme Anvils for the purchase of some of its products, for delivery by the following Monday evening. If Acme delivers the Anvils to Runner on the following Tuesday morning, such a breach of the contract would likely be deemed immaterial, and R. Runner would likely not be entitled to money damages (unless he could show that he was somehow damaged by the late delivery).
However, assume now that the contract stated clearly and explicitly that “time is of the essence” and the anvils MUST be delivered on Monday. If Acme delivers after Monday, its breach of contract would likely be deemed “material,” and R. Runner’s damages would be presumed, making Acme’s liability for the breach more severe, and likely relieving Runner of the duty to pay for the anvils under the contract.