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Negotiating a Breach of Contract in an Ongoing Business Relationship

| Jun 22, 2011 | Uncategorized

When my Portland and Seattle business law clients think of breach of contract cases, many automatically think of lawsuits and litigation. But breach of contract lawyers know that the reality on the ground is much more nuanced.

In a complex contractual business relationship, technical breaches of contract can occur all the time, sometimes even on a daily basis. Some of those contractual breaches can go unnoticed, particularly when the contractual relationship is a long one and the parties are separated by time (and occasionally space) from the terms they originally negotiated.

But contract breaches in an ongoing relationship, even a successful and amicable one, can be serious. They can undermine your ongoing operations in ways you either never noticed or forgot and, in some cases, they can even devalue your company when you go to sell it.

My clients tell me they don’t want to rock the boat in a profitable relationship, and that is unquestionably the right answer in some circumstances. But sometimes there are things that can be done to softly (and even profitably) let the other party know that they need to adhere to a particular term, even if you have never enforced the provision it in the past.

Another approach is to obtain a different concession from the other side in exchange for modifying that term in the contract. That kind of horse-trading is commonplace for business people of almost all types, and it’s a process they’re typically open to.

Dealing with a breach of contract in an ongoing contractual relationship can be (and usually should be) done in a non-adversarial manner. An experienced Portland or Seattle business law advisor can help you develop an approach that preserves your existing profitable relationship while doing what is in the best interest of your business: enforcing terms that you negotiated for originally.

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