When changes in circumstances occur as unexpectedly and unpredictably as they have done in the last few weeks, it is almost unavoidable that contractual agreements between parties can be put under pressure.
Employers and workers can be in violation of an employment contract, and it’s important to know what this is, and what to do if either you or your employer break your contract.
What a ‘Breach of Contract’ is
An employment contract is a contractual binding arrangement between you and your employer. A violation of that contract happens when either you or your employer breaks one of the terms, such as your employer is not paying your wages, or you are not working the agreed hours. Not all contractual terms are written down.
A contract of employment is a legally binding agreement between you and your employer. A breach of that contract happens when either you or your employer breaks one of the terms, for example your employer doesn’t pay your wages, or you don’t work the agreed hours. Not all the terms of a contract are written down. A violation of a contract can be a verbally negotiated term, a written word or a ‘implied’ term.
If you think there’s been a breach of contract, check the terms of your contract to make sure. If in such a situation you are an injured party it is necessary to obtain legal counsel early on. In particular, it is very important to:
Ensure a record of all losses (such as invoices, receipts, and diary entries) has been maintained.
Perhaps it is unsurprising that when faced with difficult situations and the need to act fast, documents maintained by an injured party that show the injury suffered will sometimes be less than ideal.
Take steps to mitigate the losses sustained.
The mitigation duty is a well-established concept of contract law. In simple terms , this means that the injured party can not simply point out a contract violation, sit idly by, and allow the harm done to escalate exponentially, with the intention of making a claim for damages down the line and obtaining a large amount. Instead, the Court will require the injured party to have taken all appropriate measures to minimise the severity of his injury.
To communicate promptly with the party in breach.
These cases can take some time in court, under normal circumstances, before reaching final hearing. It can take longer than normal, in the present circumstances (with Covid-19). Therefore, it is important that an injured party, either by itself or through lawyers, promptly communicate details of the alleged infringement and the extent of the infringing damages sustained.
The rules of the Court and the pre-action protocols introduced by many tribunals emphasise the need for prompt commitment to pre-action. However, it is also important to set out the issues clearly at any early stage in order to avoid any suggestion that, for example, an injured party has affirmed or consented to a breach. In many cases, early discussion between parties and their advisers can lead to a less costly and more satisfactory solution for all involved.
Remember to consider the big picture.
The current crisis would have put a lot of individuals and organisations under pressure. Formal court proceedings can be time-consuming, frustrating and costly to complete. Whether a defendant would have the ability to satisfy a verdict at the end of it all is also necessary to consider. For this purpose, it is important to consider carefully an approach to contract violations, and to pursue all avenues.
At McPartland & Sons, our expert team of solicitors are equipped to take on various case types and assist you in taking a case before a court or in seeking arbitration. Our success is based on a quality working relationship with you, the client. Our solicitors have experience in forming wider relationships with an aim to settle cases in a satisfactory manner. If you require any further advice in relation to the above or any other matters arising from the current Covid-19 crisis, please contact us here.