So you got sued for breach of contract. There’s no need to panic. Your legal rights may include a number of valid defenses to the claim, some of which may not be readily obvious. Knowing when to assert these defenses can make the difference between losing a large monetary judgment and getting the case dismissed at the outset. Before you write the plaintiff a check in whatever amount is being demanded in the lawsuit, consider whether one or more of these contract defenses may apply to your situation. There may be perfectly valid reasons why you don’t actually owe that money.
Void or Voidable Contract
A void contract is considered a nullity and has no legal effect. A contract made in violation of a Virginia statute, for example, would be illegal and therefore void. For example, contracts for the payment of interest on a loan will be deemed void if the interest rate is unlawfully high. (See Va. Code § 6.2-303). A plaintiff who brings an action based on a void contract is not entitled to recover damages, even if that contract was breached. A void contract can’t be validated or ratified. A voidable contract is one that starts off as a valid, legal contract, but which permits one or both of the parties to disaffirm or otherwise avoid the obligations created by the contract.