Suffered from a contract breach? Our legal expert answers your questions
This week, our legal law expert David Walker completed his series on all things contract law with a look at how a small business owner should handle a contract breach.
Now, he responds to questions from readers that fear they have experienced a contract breach in some capacity.
(1) “Our firm has suffered reputational damage following a lost deal do we have a case?”
We formed a partnership to submit a joint tender with a partner in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). We asked and agreed to them being the lead partner. We wrote the tender, which was signed off by the CEO in the ROI.
We won the contract but less than two weeks after the lead partner had signed and formally accepted the tender, the tender was withdrawn without any previous discussion or consultation.
As a result, we lost the tender.
Even though the customer said the lead partner had breached the terms of the contract, they decided not to sue.
We are now left with our reputation in tatters with the client, and with a significant financial loss the tender was for three years with a two-year extension option.
We asked the lead partner for proposals to compensate us but they have refused. We then asked for a meeting to discuss, but this lasted less than five minutes. The lead partner listened to us and has since said they would get back to us.
Have we acted properly? Do you consider we have a legitimate case?
Why did the lead partner pull out? If there wasn’t a good reason and they did so in breach of your partnership agreement, then there is potentially a claim here.
It’s hard to say much more without knowing the circumstances, but if someone is in breach of contract you’re entitled to bring a claim for compensation to put you in the position you would have been in had the contract been carried out properly.
As with all disputes you need evidence, and the customer will be key witness here.
(2) “Has our former employee stolen our clients?”
I am currently in what I feel is a contract breach’situation.
My small business a school recently had an employee leave the company. This took place over the summer break. Once we returned, we learned that four of our private tuition clients (of whom this employee was the tutor for) decided not to continue their relationship with us.
In our employee contracts we have a clause stating that teachers are not allowed to entice away or work for any of our clients for a period of 12 months after the end of their contract. In this instance, the elapsed time was around three months.
Unfortunately, we do not have any proof that these four clients are currently being taught by the ex-employee, and we are unsure how to prove it even if they are.
This represents quite a large loss of business for us around 15, 000-£20, 000.
David Walker is the founder of Grid Law, a firm which first targeted the motorsport industry, advising on sponsorship deals, new contracts and building of personal brands. He has now expanded his remit to include entrepreneurs, aiding with contract law, dispute resolution and protecting and defending intellectual property rights.
Legal expert David Walker continues his advice series on all things contract law, dispute resolution and intellectual property. Step four involves a look at some of the most common contractual problems for a small business owner and the best way to address them. more»
Our legal expert David Walker is providing his expert advice on all things contract law, dispute resolution and intellectual property. Step three involves a look at how contract clauses can protect firms in commercial transactions. more»