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Elements of a Cause of Action for Breach of Contract

The essential elements to a claim for breach of contract under California law are: (1) the existence of a valid contract, (2) performance of the contract by the plaintiff or excuse for nonperformance, (3) beach by the defendant, and (4) the resulting harm to the plaintiff. 

Nature of Breach

The unjustified or unexcused failure to perform a contract is a breach. Ordinarily, a breach is the result of an intentional act, but negligent performance may also constitute a breach.

Remedies For Breach of Contract

The potential remedies for breach of a contract include: (1) rescission and restitution; (2) damages; (3) specific performance; (4) injunction, and (5) declaratory relief.


Damages are awarded in an action for breach of contract to give the injured party the benefit of the bargain and, as far as possible to place that person in the same position he or she would have been in had the promisor performed the contract. The plaintiff may not simultaneously recover both damages for breach and an order of specific performance. Damages must be reasonable, however. The promisor is not required to compensate the injured party for injuries that, when the contract was made, could not be foreseen as the probable result of a breach.


When the injured party with knowledge of the breach continues to accept performance from the defaulting party, that conduct may constitute a waiver of the breach.