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What kind of remedy can you get for a breach of contract?

Contracts are important in all kinds of business situations -- whether you're a freelancer who works out of your home office or the head of a growing corporation.

So, what remedies are available when someone fails to live up to their end of a bargain? Here are some possible alternatives when resolving a breach of contract claim:

1. Reformation

Essentially, this is what can happen if you and the other party agree to re-do the contract to make it better suit your intentions or capabilities. Sometimes, it's the most expedient option and can get business back on track with the least amount of hassle.

2. Rescission

This is what happens when the parties essentially agree to drop the contract altogether. If money (such as a deposit) has changed hands, it gets returned, and the issue is settled.

3. Specific performance

This usually happens when a court steps in and orders the party in breach to complete his or her end of the deal. Sometimes, this is a far better option than money damages because it ultimately enables you to get what you wanted in the first place.

4. Monetary damages

If none of the other three options will suffice, you can ask the court to order the offending party to compensate you with money. There are several different types of money damages the court can award. They include the cost of your actual losses, any incidental or consequential losses that stem from the breach, penalties that may be specified in the contract itself and attorney fees, for example. In some cases, punitive damages -- meant to punish the breaching party -- are even possible.

A breach of contract claim is always very fact-specific, so don't assume anything until you get some experienced legal advice about your case.

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