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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in New York

In the state of New York, the Civil Court has jurisdiction over contract and property disputes. However, suits requiring settlements exceeding $100,000 are heard by the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court. The Clerks of these courts are tasked with creating, maintaining, and disseminating records pertaining to these suits. Additionally, related court records can be accessed through third-party aggregation sites like

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in New York?

Pursuant to New York Consolidated Laws, contract disputes arise when one or more parties involved in a contract are in disagreement about any of the terms stipulated within the contract. Contract disputes also occur when a party fails to fulfill their obligation according to the conditions of the legal document.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in New York

While the circumstances surrounding contract disputes generally differ, the most common contract disputes reported in New York include:

  • Breach of Contract: This type of dispute arises when a contract contains terms or conditions that are incomplete or unclear. Thus, the parties involved tend to interpret the language differently – usually to personal advantage. In this case, a party fails to honor its contractual obligations in the agreement.
  • Partnership Agreements: This type of dispute arises when equal partners disagree on what action is in the business's best interest. For example, disagreements over financial compensation or leadership roles constitute a contract dispute.
  • Business-to-Business Disputes: This type of dispute arises when one business perceives the actions of another company as unfair or deceptive within the free market.
  • Non-Compete Agreement: A non-compete agreement legally prevents the employees from working with competitors for a set period in a specific location. Disputes related to a non-compete agreement arise when the terms or conditions in an agreement is broad or unenforceable.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): This contractual dispute arises when an individual violates a legal agreement that compels the individual from divulging certain information. E.g., company trade secrets.
  • General Liability: This is one of the most common types of contract disputes in New York. Usually, any injury that occurs on a business property is a potential legal dispute.

What is New York Contract Law?

The New York Contract Law comprises statutes on how agreements or contracts between individuals, businesses, and groups are enforceable under the General Obligations section of the New York Consolidated Laws.

What is a Breach of Contract in New York?

A breach of contract occurs when one party does not fulfill their contractual obligations to the other party in an enforceable contract. In New York, there are primarily two types of contract breaches. They include:

  • Material breach: A material breach is when one party does not fulfill a contractual obligation such that the breach renders the contract irreparable. In this type of breach, the terms of the agreement no longer bind the non-breaching party, and they can sue for damages caused by the breaching party.
  • Non-material or minor breach: A non-material breach occurs when a party does not fulfill a contractual obligation, but such a breach does not disrupt the contract's central subject. While both parties are required to proceed with the contract, the non-breaching party reserves the right to sue for damages.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in New York?

In New York, the ideal remedy for a contract breach depends on the category of the breach. The Consolidated Laws of New York provides the following remedies for a proven breach of contract:

  • Compensatory damages: Compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff due to injuries or other incurred losses that resulted from a breach of contract. The court awards compensatory damages if the plaintiff proves and quantifies the loss due to the breach.
  • Specific performance: The ruling court will impose a particular performance if awarding compensatory damages is an inadequate legal remedy. In particular cases, the court orders the breaching party to complete their contractual obligations.
  • Restitution: The non-breaching party may petition the court for compensation if the non-breaching party has benefited the breaching party. If the ruling court grants this remedy, the non-breaching party returns to the position it was in before the breach.
  • Cancellation: In cases where the court finds compensatory damages and specific performance unenforceable, the court may cancel the contract. Cancellation effectively voids the terms of a contract, and the parties are no longer bound to fulfill any obligation under the agreement.

Generally, individuals or entities who have suffered a breach of contract must employ an attorney specializing in breach of contract litigations. The attorney evaluates the non-breaching party's claim and reviews the contract in question. The attorney will also represent the party's best interests during mediation and in court. The New York Civil Court and the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over breach of contract cases depending on the entities involved.

The New York Civil Court provides instructions to initiate a breach of contract suit. Generally, the litigant must:

  • Prepare a "claims" document
  • File the original and two copies with the Clerk of the Court
  • Pay the filing fee or complete an application for waiver or reduction at the Clerk's Office
  • Complete the Service of Process by serving the defendant with documents filed, either in person or by certified mail

The New York State Judiciary provides the forms needed to initiate a suit.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in New York?

In addition to contractual statutes of limitations, the litigant must prove the elements of a breach of contract suit. These include:

  • The existence of an enforceable agreement;
  • The fulfillment of the plaintiff's contractual obligations;
  • Evidence of contractual breach by the other party according to the agreement;
  • The existence of damages sustained due to the breach.

For example, under the New York Statute of Frauds, unless a contract is written such that a contract exists on compensation for services rendered in negotiating a loan, purchase, sale, exchange, renting, or leasing of any real estate or interest therein, such contract is void.

What are Property Disputes in New York?

Under §861 of the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, a property dispute is a disagreement involving real estate and damage to property.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in New York?

  • Real estate fraud
  • Boundary disputes
  • Ownership disputes
  • Title disputes
  • Property Insurance

How to Find Property Lines

Property lines are clearly defined points that show the land boundaries and where the neighboring lands begin. Typically, individuals may find details concerning property lines on the property deed from the real estate survey. Likewise, the County Assessor's office provides mapping tools and information concerning the establishment of property lines.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

The New York State Judiciary provides resources to find qualified attorneys. Likewise, the New York Law Journal maintains a list of specialized law firms.

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