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Breach of Contract: Definition

An unjustifiable failure to perform all or some part of a contractual duty is a breach of contract. A breach may occur when one party fails to perform in the manner specified by the contract or by the time specified in the contract. A breach may also occur if one party only partially performs his or her duties or fully performs them in a defective manner.

Courts distinguish total breaches from partial breaches. A total breach of contract is the failure to perform a material part of the contract, while a partial breach results from merely a slight deviation. In determining whether a breach is total or partial, courts typically examine the following factors: (1) the extent to which the non-breaching party obtained the substantial benefit of the contract despite the breach; (2) the extent to which the non-breaching party can be adequately compensated for the breach with money damages; (3) the extent to which the breaching party has already performed or made preparations for performance; (4) the extent to which the breaching party mitigated the hardship on both parties by not fully performing; (5) the willful, negligent, or innocent behavior of the breaching party; and (6) the likelihood that the breaching party will perform the remainder of the contract if allowed.

Inside Breach of Contract: Definition