William B. Hanley
What Evidence is Admissible
in a Contract Dispute?
Contract disputes are often heated and fiercely contested. Apart from the time, money, and stress they can cost your business, contract disputes can cause irreversible damage to existing business relationships and partnerships. If you are involved in a contract dispute with another party or business, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable California business litigation attorney for proper guidance.
William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, is highly experienced and knowledgeable in the legal services he offers. As your attorney, Bill will evaluate the details of your case, review the original agreement, and gather required admissible evidence. He will help you explore your possible legal options and decide the best way to proceed with your case. William B. Hanley will fight diligently to protect your rights and your business, represent your best interests, and guide you through the litigation process step by step. He is proud to serve clients throughout Irvine, Orange County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County, California.
Common Contract Disputes
Several types of contract disputes exist in California. Some of the more common ones are:
Breach of Contract
Breach of contract is a legal concept whereby a party to a contract fails to honor any of their contractual obligations according to the provisions or terms of the agreement.
Commercial Lease Disputes
Companies that rent business/office spaces often set up a lease agreement with the property owner. Various issues ranging from terms of the lease, duty to repair, early termination, subleasing, and deposits, can bring about a lease dispute.
At times, businesses mutually agree with two or more separate entities to provide goods or services. If a party to the contract breaches the agreement and results in losses, the responsible entity may be civilly liable for damages.
Consumer Contract Disputes
Companies often sell products to customers with a guarantee that the item will be as advertised and free of any hazards or defects. A consumer injured by a faulty, defective, or dangerous product may recover damages through a product liability action.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
Businesses entering into contracts with other companies or entities usually require third parties not to disclose trade secrets or other sensitive business information. A breach of the NDA may lead to a contract dispute.
Other types of contract disputes include:
- General Liability
- Partnership Disputes
- Sale of Goods Contracts
- Business to Business Disagreements
- General Material Breach
- Offer and Acceptance
- Tortious Interference
Four Types of Admissible Evidence
In any legal trial or dispute, there are four available types of admissible evidence. These include:
Also referred to as physical evidence, real evidence is any material item involved in the case that the judge or jury can hold physically and inspect. In a contract dispute, the business contract or agreement is the real evidence. However, only real evidence that is relevant, material, and authentic can be used at trial.
Demonstrative evidence demonstrates corroborative evidence and accurately reflects the testimony given by the witness. Such evidence may be a diagram, chart, map, or something that demonstrates the witness’s testimony. Demonstrative evidence can be created and used at trial.
Documentary evidence is a document presented at trial in order to prove or disprove allegations. Such evidence or documents can be obtained from different sources, including letters, diaries, contracts, newspapers, and emails.
Testimonial evidence is a piece of evidence offered by a witness or witnesses when the person is on the trial stand to relate what that they heard or saw. Here, the witness will give his or her testimony about the facts of the case under oath.
General Rules of Admissibility
There are three factors that determine the general rules of admissibility for any type of evidence. These include:
This means that the evidence must prove or disprove an applicable fact or material. Pursuant to California Evidence Code section 351, except as otherwise provided by statute, all relevant evidence is admissible.
This means the evidence that is being introduced specifically applies to a fact in the case. Evidence is material if the proof is being provided to establish a fact of the case (California Evidence Code section 201).
This means the evidence or proof that is being provided meets certain traditional legal requirements of reliability (California Evidence Code section 402, 403). This is also referred to as foundational evidence.
The Parol Evidence Rule
In a contract dispute, the Parol Evidence Rule is also referred to as “the outside evidence rule.” Such outside evidence may include written agreements, oral agreements, promises, or discussions before finalizing the written contract. Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1856,
“The terms set forth in a writing intended by the parties as a final expression of their agreement with respect to the terms included therein may not be contradicted by evidence of a prior agreement (written or oral) or of a contemporaneous oral agreement.”
Therefore, once the contract is signed, the final contract is truly final. In the event of a contract dispute, the actual signed document remains paramount, while any outside evidence shall not be considered. Being their final contract, all parties to the agreement must consent to it.
The three exceptions to the Parol Evidence Rule include:
- When a party was fraudulently induced, coerced, or deceived into signing the contract
- When the meaning of contract terms is ambiguous, overly complicated, or missing
- When an independent collateral contract exists alongside the agreement
Why Hire William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law?
Business litigation usually involves several complexities with substantial ramifications. Such contract disputes stretch your capacity to the very limit and drain your company of its limited resources. Therefore, when involved in a contract dispute, retaining a knowledgeable California business litigation attorney is important to provide adequate protection and outline an effective strategy.
For more than 45 years, William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, has been handling different types of business disputes, including simple to complex contract disputes involving cross-claims, multiple parties, and jurisdictions. As your legal counsel, he will review the details of your case, gather required pieces of evidence, and determine the right strategy to pursue your case and protect your investment. Using his extensive experience, Bill can help you navigate your contract dispute, regardless of its magnitude.
Contact William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced California business litigation attorney. Bill can offer you the comprehensive legal guidance, advocacy, and strong representation you need. He proudly serves clients throughout Irvine, Orange County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County, California.