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Understanding material breaches of contract

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2023 | Construction Law

Before a construction project can begin in Florida, parties involved in the project will enter into an agreement that outlines the project, deadlines, payment and other requirements. Failure to adhere to the terms of the agreement may be considered a material or non-material breach of contract. A breach of contract may relate to:

  • Substandard work performance.
  • Missed deadlines or delays.
  • Use of inferior materials.
  • Increase in cost of labor or materials.
  • Failure to perform.
  • Failure to construct in accordance with agreed-upon specifications.

What is the difference between a material and non-material breach?

Generally, if the breach impacts the heart of the contract, it may be considered material and the non-breaching party may be allowed to terminate work, stop payment or stop performance. However, if the breach relates to a minor aspect of the contract and does not impact the project outcome, the breach may be considered non-material. If there is a minor breach, the non-breaching party may still have to perform under the contract but may be able to recover damages caused by the breach.

How does a court determine whether a breach is material?

There are many factors to consider when determining whether a breach is material. The court will look at:

  • Any benefit to or detriment suffered by the non-breaching party due to the breach.
  • Performance, if any, by both parties.
  • Whether the non-breaching party can be properly compensated.
  • Whether the breaching party will be able to perform.

Filing a claim against a breaching party may be the best way to recover damages after a material breach of contract. A construction law attorney can help aggrieved parties determine whether the breach that occurred was material and proceed with a lawsuit, if necessary.