In Boston, any agreement becomes a legal, binding contract if it has two things: value for both sides, and that both sides knew they were locking themselves into it.
A good contract makes clear the duties and rights each party has under the contract. And no matter what the agreement is about – real estate, business transaction, partnership – a contract works best if it is put down in writing.
When one side doesn’t get what it expects under the contract - and the other side doesn’t want to give it - a contract dispute arises. Each party will usually be bound by the actual text of the contract. And that’s where a good contract lawyer can be worth every penny.
By delving deeply into the language of the contract, and the years of caselaw behind it, a good contract lawyer may be able to help interpret the contract in a way that favors your position. That can strengthen your hand in negotiation and solve the problem at the start.
Or, if the issue just can’t be resolved by talking, you need a good contract lawyer to press your rights in court.
A Contract Cannot Be Used As A Way To Take Unfair Advantage Of Someone
No matter if it’s written into the contract, everyone who agrees to a contract also implicitly agrees to treat the other party in good faith and to treat them fairly and not take unfair advantage of them. The duty of good faith and fair dealing is a key tool lawyers can use to resolve conflicts or win them in court.
This duty has been part of Massachusetts law for a long time. It was recognized in New Hampshire law only recently, thanks to a case brought by Cornell Dolan, P.C. on behalf of actress Salma Hayek’s father. In that case, a New Hampshire company that made equipment that cleans oil rigs used Sami Hayek’s company to build up their business in Mexico, and then terminated the contract just when the business started taking off. The judge found the New Hampshire company was taking unfair advantage of Mr. Hayek.
When A Contract Goes Really Bad, It Can Involve Torts
Sometimes, a party takes such advantage of the other party – either to coax the person into the contract or does something bad while the contract is in force - that the bad act rises to the level of harm known in law as a tort. This can involve fraud or defamation or some other harm. In Massachusetts, this can also involve M.G.L. 93A, a statute that polices unfair business practices.
These claims are harder to prove than breach of contract claims. But if they succeed, they can lead to higher compensation and attorneys fees. Otherwise, a simple contract dispute will not pay a party’s legal fees back, unless that provision is written into the contract.
How To Protect Yourself If You Are In A Contract
If you are in a contract with someone else, the most important thing you can do is to expect that the contract will be breached in some way. Of course, contracts are usually honored without any problems between the parties. But you will be well served if you can look down the road and anticipate what can happen if there is a problem. Here are some other things you can do:
Here are some particular contracts that often end in disputes:
Real Estate Contract Disputes
Real estate is a complex field and real estate agreements can be incredibly complex. A contract lawyer can help a client understand a real estate contract and, if possible, amend the contract to protect the client’s rights. When a real estate contract disputes arise, you should secure experienced legal representation as quickly as possible to stop the conflict at the start and prevent destruction of evidence.
Construction Contract Disputes
When a general contractor or other party to a construction contract breaches a contractual agreement, many parties can be harmed. Construction laws protect these parties and ensure such projects are handled professionally and responsibly. A contract lawyer can help anyone involved in a construction contract dispute resolve the issue quickly and legally.
Resolving Contract Disputes
A contract dispute can be resolved in several ways. Sometimes, simply talking the issues through with all parties can solve the dispute. In other cases, arbitration with a neutral third party can offer a speedy and legally-binding resolution. And sometimes, the best path is a lawsuit. In any construction law case, real estate dispute, or business contract dispute, hiring an experienced contract lawyer can be well worth the cost.
The Boston contract dispute attorneys at Cornell Dolan, P.C. have a track record of successful high-profile cases thanks to their legal acumen and commitment to protecting clients’ rights. If you face a breach of contract, a real estate contract dispute, or a problem related to construction law, the attorneys at Cornell Dolan, P.C. may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Nothing on this page constitutes legal advice. And it isn't direct solicitation, either. If you need legal advice, though, by all means, call us at (617) 535-7763.