What remedies can I seek for breach of contract?

No one enters into an agreement, as an individual or as a business, with the expectation that things will go wrong or that the other party will breach the contract. But sometimes things do go wrong, and when the terms of the contract cannot resolve a disagreement or a breach takes place you may need to consider what legal or equitable remedies you may have. This post will cover the most common kinds of relief that are sought when the parties to a contract turn to Illinois courts for a remedy.

Money damages. Most often the party seeking legal relief for a contract breach will seek to recover money. Money damages can take different forms, depending on factors such as whether the plaintiff seeks to receive the benefit of the bargain contracted for or to be put back in the position he or she was in before entering into the agreement. These types of money damages include compensatory damages and restitution.

Occasionally the contract itself will provide for a form of money damages if a party breaches the agreement. These are referred to as liquidated damages. Less commonly, one party may seek exemplary or "punitive" damages from the other in situations where the breach of contract involved malicious behavior or resulted in personal injury to the non-breaching party. Lastly, there are a few instances in which the court may award minimal or "nominal" damages if no real monetary harm can be shown, or if the non-breaching party partially performed its contract obligations a form of partial money damages known as "quantum meruit" can be awarded as compensation for that partial performance.

Non-monetary remedies. Sometimes an award of money damages will not work as a remedy for breach of contract. If the contract is such that the non-breaching party cannot secure the same service somewhere else, then the plaintiff may demand that the breaching party perform its obligations (specific performance). On other occasions the plaintiff may want to simply get out of the contract, which is known as rescission. This remedy sometimes goes with restitution money damages when the objective is to back out of the agreement and recover amounts already spent under the contract.

The type of remedy that you may seek for a breach of contract will depend on your unique circumstances. A law firm that practices in Illinois contract law can help you to identify the most appropriate remedy for your particular needs.

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