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Breach of Contract: What to Do When a Contract is Breached

Updated on November 7, 2010

The Nature of a Contract

 Western/American law is unique in the world.  For centuries, when two parties have come to agreement, they have written down terms in the form of a contract that could later be interpreted by an independent third party, i.e. a magistrate or a judge.

The rest of the world has followed our lead, but the Western-Anglo penchant for writing down the terms of agreement in a way they could plead for a third party to enforce remains somewhat unique to our culture.  We are people of the written word - and implicit in our reliance on the written word, is the sense that those words can objectively, consistently be interpreted by a third party who had no part in the making of the agreement, but merely came to read it because the parties wound up in conflict.

Conflict, when it exists in the context of parties operating through a contract, normally exists because one party - or both - contends the other has breached at least one important aspect of the contract's provisions.  This is where Americans are even more unique.  In other cultures, parties will bring their disputes to a court of law, only in certain circumstances, and only after attempting to resolve their disputes in a variety of other ways.

In America, as soon as someone feels a contract they benefit from has been breached in a material way, he or she may resort to the legal system.  This makes lawyers very important in our lives - whether we like them or not. 

The nature of a contract is the reduction of an agreement between two parties to a certain set of terms - usally expressed in words, and usually, but not necessarily, expressed in writing.


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