When you enter into a contract with another person or business in South Carolina, you both have certain responsibilities that you must fulfill. If either you or the other party doesn’t hold up their end of the contract, then a breach of contract has occurred.
What is a Breach of Contract?
In legal terms, a breach of contract is when one party to a contract breaks a promise by not acting without a legal excuse. The most common reasons for a breach of contract to occur in South Carolina include:
- Not finishing a job they were hired to do
- Inferior work
- Not paying the other party
- Failure to deliver goods and/or services
Once the contract has been breached, you, as the non-breaching party to the contract are not responsible for your obligation as laid out in the contract. For example, if a contractor didn’t fulfill his obligation under the contract, you don’t have to pay them.
A contract dispute can arise when you or one of the other signing parties doesn’t live up to their obligations under the contract. There are three different types of contract breaches in South Carolina. They are:
- Anticipatory Breach: This happens when one party states in advance of the due date of the contract that they will not fulfill their obligations under the contract.
- Material Breach: This occurs when a substantial breach is made and essential obligations haven’t been fulfilled.
- Minor Breach: When one of the parties fails to perform or meet any minor terms and conditions of the contract.
What is a Legally Binding Agreement in South Carolina?
A contract in South Carolina is defined as ‘an agreement between two or more persons with an offer and an acceptance, with an action that indicates acceptance, and consideration – which means something of value is promised or exchanged.’
In some cases, an oral agreement may be fine, but there are exceptions such as:
- The contract will take longer than one (1) year to complete
- The contract for a set amount of money determined by the state
- Contract lasting longer than the lifetime of one of the signees
- Land or real estate
- Property lease lasting more than one year
- Payment of someone else’s debt
- Property transfer upon death of a party performing the contract
What is Nonperformance in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, both you and the other party to the contract is required unless two things happen. They are:
- When both parties agree to change the terms of the contract
- If you deviate from the terms of the contract and the other party agrees to them.
Is There a Limit to File a Complaint in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, you have three years to seek a remedy in court.
The three-year period starts in two different situations. They are:
- When you find out about the breach
- If you paid someone for something, find out a few years later the work wasn’t done, such as wiring by a contractor that is hidden behind a wall, your three-year period would start at that time.
Can I Sue Over a Contract Dispute in South Carolina?
While taking someone to court can work for many people, for you and other business owners it may not always be your best choice. It can be extremely expensive and often costs more than the contract is worth. Other methods may work for your circumstances. They include:
- Mediation: Mediation involves a neutral third-party who is brought in to review the contract and work with you and the other parties to solve the dispute. There isn’t a winner or loser in mediation. A good mediator will work with all the parties to find a remedy that works for all of you.
- Arbitration: Arbitration is kind of like mediation. An arbitrator is a neutral third-party who listens to all the evidence from each of you. However, an arbitrator makes the final decision based on all the evidence and is not necessarily concerned with finding a remedy all parties to the contract will agree to.
Do I Need a South Carolina Business Law Attorney?
A breach of contract, if written, may already have an arbitration clause in it. However, what the best course of action is for you can be a difficult decision. Knowing what kind of damages you may be entitled to be best left to an experienced South Carolina lawyer.
The business law attorneys at the Greenville law firm of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, L.L.C. can review your contract and advise you as to your best course of action.