Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

Does my contract dispute belong in small claims court?

When two parties enter into an agreement, the hope and aim is that everyone will adhere to their side of the bargain and everything will go as planned. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case and for one reason or another, issues such as delays or unexpected events can cause the contract to remain unfulfilled and a breach to take place. A breach of contract takes place when one party does not fulfill their end of the bargain. Some examples of this are when a party does not perform on time or perform in accordance with the terms of the contract. What can the other party do if a contract is breached?

Usually when a contract dispute takes place, parties try to nip the problem in the bud by trying to resolve the issue on their own. But when they fail at informal attempts, they may approach the legal system and file a claim. Depending on the situation and terms of the contract, the allegedly aggrieved party may want to enforce the contract as it is or they may want to call it quits and recover the financial harm that was caused by the supposed breach.

The court parties can approach in order to file a lawsuit depends on the dollar amount involved in the dispute. If the dispute involves $5,000 or less, the small claims court has jurisdiction over the matter in New York and if the dispute is for $25,000 or less, the Supreme Court refers the matter to the Civil Court of the City of New York.

Only individuals over the age of 18 can file a claim in Small Claims Court, not corporations, though corporations can be sued here.

Regardless of the dollar amount of a contract dispute, a breach of contract can cause serious problems for New York residents and affect them personally or professionally. Contracts are created to provide protection to those entering into it, and an experienced attorney may be able to guide individuals through the process of enforcing their rights in a contract.

Source: FindLaw, "'Breach of contract' and lawsuits," Accessed on May 4, 2015

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