Breach of Contract Defenses
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, if you have been sued for breach of a contract, you must respond by either admitting or denying each allegation in the Complaint. Furthermore, there are several affirmative breach of contract defenses, meaning legally recognized reasons that you can assert that would render the allegations of the Complaint void. This article will address several of those defenses, but keep in mind there are numerous others that could pertain to your situation.
Lack of Capacity
A breach of contract defense of lack of capacity means that one of the parties to the action, the Plaintiff of the Defendant, lacked the fundamental ability to be accountable for their actions and therefore, the contract should be null and void. An example of this breach of contract defense is when a minor child under the age of 18 enters into a contract to purchase an expensive vehicle. The minor child does not have the legally recognized ability to understand the nature of the contract and the contract is therefore voidable.
Fraud occurs when one party intentionally and wilfully deceives another party as to the nature and consequences of the contract. In order to assert fraud as a breach of contract defense, Pennsylvania courts typically require an affirmative action by the defrauding party, such as a willful misrepresentation of intentional concealment of facts that, if were known, the party being defrauded would not have entered into the contract.
Statute of Limitations
The breach of contract defense of statute of limitations means that the appropriate time for the Plaintiff to bring the lawsuit has already passed. The statute of limitations for a breach of contract claim in Pennsylvania is 4 years for both written and oral contracts. If the contract at the center of the lawsuit was breached more than 4 years before initiating the claim, then the Plaintiff is not entitled to any award or judgment.
Statute of Frauds
Although oral contracts are valid and enforceable in Pennsylvania, certain contracts, such as those for the sale of goods valued at $500.00 or higher, must be in writing in order to be valid. Therefore, if you entered into a contract to buy or sell goods at a price greater than $500.00 and the contract was breached at a later time, the contract may not be enforceable.
These are just some of the affirmative defenses available if you have been accused of breaching a contract. Please consult an attorney prior to breaching any existing contract. Here at Freundlich & Littman, LLC, we are intimately familiar with breach of contract claims and we have years of experience representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants. For more information of contractual law click here. If you have been accused of breach of contract, do not hesitate to contact us at Freundlich & Littman, LLC.
We can be reached at (215) 545-8500 or at [email protected].