As adults, we encounter contracts in all aspects of our lives. Every time we place an order for goods, we enter into a consumer agreement. When we secure employment, or take on a job as a freelancer, we enter into a professional agreement. When we get married, rent a home, or take out a mortgage, we enter into an agreement that is personal and binding. These agreements are designed to govern our relationships – to each other, to our employers, our suppliers, and our landlords.
If contracts bring order to society with this relationship governance and regulation, then a breach of contract has the potential to create chaos. Any situation in which the terms of a contract are broken means that there is conflict, dispute, and the possible damage to personal and professional circumstances. Recovery from damage caused by a breach of contract can be lengthy and, sometimes, elusive, depending on the nature of the breach, and the type of contract involved.
Types of contract breach
While any agreement in life can technically result in a written contract, there are four broad types of contract that commonly arise, potentially involving different terms that each have their own breach implications.
Employment hours – Having agreed hours of work, an employee could breach these terms by faking illness or injury and taking time away from work while fraudulently claiming sick pay.
Non-compete – It is not uncommon for employers to require certain staff to sign a non-compete clause, designed to prevent them from taking commercially valuable skills or knowledge to a market competitor in the event of termination of employment. Employees can breach these terms by moonlighting or taking a new job with a competitor.
Non-disclosure – Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) can be required for a number of reasons, including protection of the terms of a settlement, or protection of intellectual property. These can be breached by sharing the information covered by the agreement.
Payment – When goods or services are supplied, payment is expected. When the recipient fails to pay, they are in breach of that contract.
Delivery – When payment has been made, or when an order for goods or services has been placed, delivery is expected. Failure to deliver is a breach of contract.
Child custody – Family breakdown is an incredibly stressful situation, and child custody agreements can be difficult to negotiate and finalise. Once they have been signed, however, it is essential that all parties adhere to the content. Breach of these terms can be damaging for the child, and for future amendments requested by any party.
Child maintenance – When an agreement is made with respect to child maintenance payments, these terms must be followed. Failure to do so can jeopardise the wellbeing of the child. However, fraudulent claims of child maintenance are also problematic, and equally constitute a breach of contract.
Pre-nuptial – In advance of marriage, some couples may negotiate and sign a pre-nuptial agreement, designed to protect the interests of all parties in the event of relationship breakdown. Failing to meet those terms when the agreement is triggered is a breach of contract.
Named tenants – On signing a tenancy agreement, all parties agree which people are allowed to reside in the property in question, and a specific ban on sub-letting will usually be included. If a tenant then decides to rent a room to a different person, then they are in breach of contract.
Rent payment – The rent payments expected in exchange for tenancy are set out clearly in every tenancy agreement, along with the terms of those payments being made and received. If a tenant fails to pay on time, they are in breach of contract. Similarly, if a Landlord increases the rent without the proper notice being served, then they are in breach of contract, too.
Service provision – Every tenancy agreement will stipulate exactly what is included in the rent, and what level of property management service tenants can expect. When a Landlord fails to meet these obligations, they are in breach of contract.
How can Private Investigators help?
When a breach of contract is either suspected, or has occurred, evidence is required. This evidence is not only needed for the pursuit of any legal action, but also for the initial follow-up stages of contract breach – the point at which mediation and negotiation are still options for an amicable resolution of the dispute. Gathering evidence is the primary function of qualified, professional Private Investigators, and this task is undertaken in such a way as to deliver the necessary information in a format that is admissible in court. In order to do that, the evidence must be gathered legally and in an ethical manner.
There are a number of strategies and cutting-edge technologies available to those Private Investigators providing a professional service, including OpSec Solutions. When it comes to breach of contract cases, the goal is to determine whether or not the suspicions of contract breach are based in fact, and the objective is to uncover the truth. This is approached from a position of neutrality, regardless of which party is footing the bill. If a breach of contract has taken place, then the evidence will be there to prove it, and will be detectable in different ways.
- Static surveillance
By covertly ‘staking out’ a specific location, a trained Private Investigator can gather documentary evidence of several potential breaches of contract, including subletting of rented property, issues arising within child maintenance and custody cases, divorce settlements including issues of co-habitation, and employees faking illness. Evidence is gathered in the form of photographs, video footage, and activity logs that feature comprehensive time records along with vehicle details.
- Mobile surveillance
Discreetly following a target while staying within the parameters of the law can provide evidence of several types of breach of contract, including sick pay fraud, moonlighting, issues within child custody agreements, and even non-payment of rent where a tenant claims to not be working. It can also be used in the case of pre-nuptial agreements, where suspicions of infidelity need to be confirmed within the context of a breach of contract terms. Professional Private Investigators can gather photographic, video, and activity evidence while following a person by car or on foot. Qualified, accredited Private Investigators can even follow a person as they leave the country and head overseas.
- Electronic surveillance
While particular types of surveillance of employees are indeed illegal, it is entirely within the parameters of the law to monitor activity on your own electronic systems. That means surveillance of computer activity, and analysis of video and audio recordings made legally within the workplace, along with corporate phone call records. It is illegal to record your employees in spaces where they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms or changing areas, but CCTV footage can be gathered in more public spaces, including car parks that you own as part of your business premises. This can help in cases of moonlighting, and breaches of non-compete clauses and non-disclosure agreements. Residential CCTV footage can also be useful in child custody cases.
- GPS vehicle tracking
It is legal for you to track a vehicle that you own, or that is part of your business operation, even if it is being used by employees. This means that GPS vehicle tracking is a great option for gathering evidence of moonlighting, collusion with competitors, or any kind of company vehicle use that is in contravention of contract terms, including personal use. It is also possible to track your own, personal vehicle, if you suspect it is being used by a family member or friend in such a way that a breach of contract is underway. That might relate to the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement, or child custody arrangements, for example.
- Background checks
Background investigations are among the most common services provided by professional Private Investigators and involve the comprehensive search and analysis of publicly available records. While this type of service is often engaged before contracts are signed, or before relationships begin, it can also be very helpful as part of a contract breach investigation. A background check can provide valuable additional information on past behaviours of those accused of non-payment, or non-delivery of goods or services, for example. Similarly, once child custody arrangements have been agreed, background checks can provide vital detail about any new partners that become involved with the family unit. A background check can also help prove whether a person’s financial situation has changed since signing a child maintenance agreement, putting them in breach of contract.
- Person tracing
When a person has disappeared in an attempt to avoid paying a bill or debt, they are in breach of contract. Likewise, if an employee has called in sick for a few days, but is not where they should be, they could also be in the process of breaching the terms of their contract. In these cases, a Private Investigator can use publicly available records and anecdotal evidence to trace the person in question. This, combined with mobile surveillance can help to prove a contract breach case.
Professionals get results
While it is always important for the results of private investigation to be unassailable, this is never more true than in breach of contract cases. The fact that contracts are legally binding documents means that it is essential for evidence gathered to be fully admissible in a court of law, should the dispute progress that far. By hiring fully accredited, experienced Private Investigators, like OpSec Solutions, you can be sure that the truth of your case will be uncovered in a professional, ethical, court admissible way. Call today to find out more.