Imagine the following scenario: You have hired a contractor to paint the exterior of your home a slate grey with Victorian white trim. The contractor commences work on a Friday morning. You provide the contractor with a check and he promises to have the house painted by the time you return home from work later that day. You return home from work and find that the contractor has painted your house bright pink, and he has failed to paint any of the window trim. You attempt to work out the dispute with the contractor directly, but he insists you “got what you paid for.” To sue the contractor for breach of contract, you must prove the following: A valid contract existed, the contractor breached the contract and as a result of that breach, you have monetary damages.


A valid contract existed. In order for you to even start a breach of contract suit, you must be able to show that a valid contract existed between you and the other party. If you have a written contract that has been signed by both parties, then this is relatively straight-forward. If no written contract exists, you likely still have a case. Oral contracts are commonly upheld by courts. It is necessary to show a valid offer, acceptance of that offer, and consideration for the agreement. Consideration is usually money, but can be bartered goods or services. A valid contract also requires the parties to have the capacity to enter a contract. As long as all parties are over 18 years of age and mentally competent, this requirement is met.


Performance. In order to succeed in a breach of contract action, you must be able to show that you held up your end of the bargain under the terms of the contract. In this situation, you have paid the money to the contractor, thus fulfilling your obligation.


Breach of Contract. This requires you to prove the contractor breached the contract. In this case, it may require you to provide a written contract showing the paint color you agreed to along with documentary evidence showing the home was not painted that color. In the absence of a written contract, documentary evidence and testimony can be sufficient to show the contractor breached the agreement.


Damages. A party must be able to prove monetary damages with reasonable certainty. In this case, you will have damages from any repair and repainting necessary due to the contractor’s breach. A court will not award a party damages that are punitive in nature; damages are only to compensate plaintiffs, not to punish defendants.

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