Skip to main content Skip to footer

What is a Breach of Contract Under UK Law?

A breach of contract is the breaking of one or more of the terms and conditions of a contract.

Breaching the terms of a contract can lead to a complete breakdown of a professional relationship. In some cases, it can also result in legal action and claims for damages in court.

This could be contracts relating to;

Contract disputes can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money to resolve. They can even hamper your ability to fulfil other contracts, risking further litigation.

 

What Happens in a Breach of Contract Dispute?

Disputes occur when one party accuses another of breaking the terms of a contract. This often results in one party suffering one or more financial losses.

Breach of contract claims are expensive and time consuming to settle. As such, regardless of whether you are;

  1. The injured party, or
  2. Accused of breaching a contract,

We often recommend you do your best to reach an amicable solution.

Our expert contract lawyers can help you reach an outcome both sides are happy with.

Where both sides fail to agree on a solution, court might be the only option. If this is the case, our solicitors can help get a fair result in court.

 

Important Facts to Consider in a Breach of Contract Dispute

If you breach a contract, or if someone else has breached a contract you’re part of, we first need to establish:

The Existence of a Contract

In most cases, a contract does not have to be a written document. Verbal agreements can be as legally binding as a contract drafted by a solicitor.

Whether written or verbal, there are three elements which make a contract legally enforceable:

  1. There must be an agreement in place: One party must make an offer which the other party accepts.
  2. Intention: All parties must intend to fulfil their obligations under the agreement.
  3. Consideration: This is the exchange of something of value in return for a promise. This might be a payment in return for a promise to deliver goods or services.

The Terms of the Contract

To understand if you or someone else breached a contract, we must understand its terms. This is even more important when contracts are verbally agreed.

Terms can be ‘express’ or ‘implied’;

Express Terms

Express terms are specific terms agreed at the time of creating the contract. These could be;

  • Verbal
  • Form part of a written contract, or
  • Contained within other documents like a company’s standard terms and conditions

For example, a roofing company agree to replace a roof on a building for a fee of £10,000.

Implied Terms

Implied terms do not appear in a contract, but it is obvious the contract would be useless without it.

For example, a contract for the installation of a new roof might not have an express term that states that it must not leak. But this expectation would be implied in the contract.

The Breach

Having established;

  1. That a contact exists, and
  2. The terms of that contract

The next step is to understand if a breach has happened. In most cases this is obvious.

If one party fails to fulfil their obligations set out by a contract, then they are in breach.

In some cases, a breach might not have occurred, but it becomes obvious that it will. In this case, the other side needs to take steps to prevent the breach from happening or make other arrangements.

This is known as an ‘anticipatory breach’.

Simple suspicion of an anticipatory breach is not enough to bring about a claim. It must be undisputable.

For example, if an electrician agrees to;

  1. Re-wire a property
  2. For an agreed price
  3. By an agreed date

Then later informs you that they do it by the agreed date and it will now cost more, you can sue for the ‘non-performance’ of the contract.

Remedy

The most common remedy for a breach of contract is damages, an amount of money awarded by the court. Its purpose is to put the injured party into the position they would have been if the breach had not occurred.

For damages to be awarded, the aggrieved party must;

  1. Prove that they have suffered losses, and
  2. Take steps to mitigate or reduce their losses

For example, if an employer’s breach of contract results in an employee losing their job, the employee must show that they have taken steps to find a new job. A tribunal would not accept an employee to stay unemployed and claiming damages.

The remedy for a breach of contract depends on the severity of the breach. For a minor breach, it is only possible to sue for damages. If the breach is serious, you could also recover the cost of correcting the breach.

A court will also consider an aspect called ‘remoteness’. They will only award damages for any losses which flowed from a breach of contract.

For example, if a roofing company installs a leaky roof which results in water damage, the claimant can also claim for the cost of having the water damaged fixed.

In most cases, the court will only award damages for financial losses. The stress and inconvenience of the victim is irrelevant.

The only caveat to this is if a contract were to promote enjoyment and/or happiness. This mostly applies to the sale of holidays and leisure activities.

 

What is the Limitation Period For a Breach of Contract?

In most cases, there is a six-year limitation period. This means a claimant must bring a claim within 6 years.

So, if you are the defendant in a claim, this means that a claimant cannot claim for something that happened more than six years ago.

 

Why use Rotheras for Breach of Contract Claims?

We will carefully consider the terms of the contract you entered to assess your rights and obligations. We can then advise you on the best course of action going forward.

We will assign a contract solicitor from in our Dispute Resolution team to your case. They have specialist experience in dealing with consumer contract claims and will look after you case from start to finish.

We will be honest and upfront about our fees from the start.

We encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution and mediation and will avoid court proceedings where possible.

We can work closely with our Debt Recovery team to help you claim losses incurred because of the breach of contract.

We can help you with:

  • Disputes over poor-quality workmanship
  • Faulty or defective goods
  • Unfair contract terms
  • Financial agreement disputes
  • Disputes over contracts for goods and/or services
  • Consumer Rights issues
  • Breach of a specific contractual term

Contact our Dispute Resolution Team

Send us a message

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Richard Hammond

“We strive to make every matter as stress free as possible”

Richard Hammond
Head of Dispute Resolution

If you’re happy then we’re happy too.

4.8 244 reviews

Posted 27/01/2020

"Impressive group with expertise in both matrimonial finance cases and children matters. A strong childcare team handles cases involving physical and emotional abuse, as well as fatalities. Well versed in matters with international aspects, Hague Convention cases, as well as adoption and guardianship issues.

Chambers UK, 2018

Posted 27/01/2020

Anton Balkitis frequently represents the operators of both goods and passenger vehicles in court proceedings. Clients remark: "He has a commercial understanding of real-life issues and will always provide a balanced view

Chambers UK, 2019

Posted 27/01/2020

Impressive group with expertise in both matrimonial finance cases and children matters. A strong childcare team handles cases involving physical and emotional abuse, as well as fatalities. Well versed in matters with international aspects, Hague Convention cases, as well as adoption and guardianship issues.

Chambers UK, 2018

Posted 27/01/2020

My previous dealings with Rotheras have always been excellent-total efficiency and professional. Jayne Smith previously and now Emily Weston. I would always use Rotheras as my solicitors. Thank you.

David Armstrong

Posted 02/06/2020

Chris Powell at Rotheras was recommended to us by a trusted associate within the Transport Industry; without doubt we wouldn’t have had the excellent outcome we did without his and his team’s involvement. The level of professionalism, expert advice and assistance was faultless; we felt reassured and well informed throughout the whole process. It was a pleasure to do business with him and would highly recommend his services!

Julian Brindley - John Brindley Ltd

Posted 12/08/2020

The team at Rotheras, and Mr Powell in particular, have provided us with an outstanding service. We are extremely grateful for the help and support they gave us in dealing with issues relating to our transport operations and our goods vehicle operators licence. Mr Powell was professional, knowledgable, efficient and effective. He quickly understood our business and the problem we had. He responded with sensible advice and acted quickly on our behalf to resolve the matter. I cannot thank him enough for his help and I would recommend Mr Powell, and the Rotheras team, without hesitation. I am extremely grateful for the help they gave us.

Richard Hitchcock - Hitchcock & King

Posted 12/08/2020

I would highly recommend James Briggs, solicitor at Rotheras. He has been extremely helpful, patient and thorough whilst helping me with affairs following the death of my husband. Even during lockdown (covid) he maintained communication and kept me informed of what was happening. He successfully achieved the outcome I needed and I would not hesitate to recommend him.

Yvonne Gold

Posted 30/09/2020

We are in the middle of launching our own packaging agency and contacted Rotheras for some professional legal advice with regards to contracts. After an initial call with Billy, he made it clear what we needed and asked plenty of questions to understand what it was we needed. He was very responsive to our questions, whether it be over the phone or via emails and made the process really simple. We had little experience in this area so it was fantastic to work with Billy, who explained everything concisely. We were also really pleased with the quick turnaround and great value offered. Would thoroughly recommend working with Rotheras.

Tom Burden, Director of Rightbox Ltd

Posted 30/09/2020

Billy understood our requirement from the get go and really nailed down on what we needed in our commercial agency agreement. Billy kept us informed every step of the way and showed great professionalism. We would recommend his services to any start-up business who is in need of legal advice and guidance with commercial contracts.

Axl Barber, Sales Director of Rightbox Ltd

Posted 11/02/2021

I was extremely pleased with the service that Kerry provided in order to sell my mothers house. Good, prompt communication and all questions dealt with or answered as requested. Consequently I would recommend yours services to others.

Adam Stevens

Posted 25/03/2021

Anton has substantial experience acting for commercial goods hauliers and other transport operators. He advises on a range of contentious issues including operator licence, maintenance and tachograph matters, with a wealth of experience acting in public inquiries before Traffic Commissioners."Anton is a highly informed and personable lawyer.

Chambers UK, 2020

Posted 25/03/2021

Chris Powell focuses his practice on road transport issues, regularly representing haulage, transport and logistics companies. He has considerable experience in regulatory matters involving operator licences and compliance failings, as well as more serious criminal investigations relating to fraud.

Chambers UK, 2020

Contact our Dispute Resolution Team
Dispute Resolution Team
Richard Bates

Richard Bates

r.bates@rotheras.co.uk

Richard Bates leads the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team at Rotheras. Richard is a litigation specialist and can provide a wide range of services to both commercial and private clients.

Richard Hammond

Richard Hammond

r.hammond@rotheras.co.uk

Richard Hammond is a Dispute Resolution specialist and mediator at Nottingham-based law firm Rotheras Solicitors. Richard is also a notary public, processing client documents for international use.

Grant Benskin

Grant Benskin

g.benskin@rotheras.co.uk

Grant Benskin is an Associate Solicitor Advocate in Rotheras’ Dispute Resolution team and is based at our Lace Market office in the heart of Nottingham city centre.

Paige Regardsoe

Paige Regardsoe

p.regardsoe@rotheras.co.uk

Paige Regardsoe is an Associate Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution department and is based at our Lace Market office.

Sophie Price

s.price@rotheras.co.uk

Sophie Price is a Trainee Solicitor currently in the Dispute Resolution department and is based in our Lace Market office.

Abagail Clarke

a.clarke@rotheras.co.uk

Abagail Clarke is a paralegal in Rotheras’ Dispute Resolution department and is based at our Lace Market office.

George Cokkinos

George Cokkinos

g.cokkinos@rotheras.co.uk

George Cokkinos is a Paralegal in Rotheras’ Employment Law and Dispute Resolution departments and is based at our Lace Market office in the heart of Nottingham city centre.

News
Careless driving

New motoring offence of ‘Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving’ comes into effect

As of 28 June 2022, a new offence of causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving will apply. If your driving is “below” the expected and results in the “serious injury” of another, then this can be construed as causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving.

Cashier job position

We’re Recruiting: Cashier

An excellent opportunity has arisen for a Cashier to work in our Accounts Department.

This role can be part time or full time, with a requirement to be in the office 1-2 times a week with the remaining days working from home.

Find out how Rotheras can help you