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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Georgia

In Georgia, a contract arises when parties involved in a transaction make offers and agreements. Then, the parties sign a legal document detailing the enforceability of the obligations on both parties. When disputes arise in the execution of a contract and the parties cannot resolve it, the case moves on to the judiciary for adjudication. Similar disagreements regarding property also arise. The court responsible for the adjudication of the case maintains all records of the proceedings from filing to final judgment. These records are available to interested members of the public.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for 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 persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Georgia?

Per Title 13 of the Georgia Code, a contract dispute is when the parties privy to a contract breach the terms and conditions of the contract. A contract dispute may also arise when parties disagree on the enforceability of terms and conditions.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Georgia?

The most common types of contract disputes in Georgia often arise from the following cases/agreements involving private and public entities:  

  • Leases Dispute: Lease disputes often involve proprietors and tenants of commercial real estate. Where there is an unclear or absent language in a commercial lease contract, a dispute will generally arise in the enforceability or the extent to which the parties can enforce the lease agreement. A common cause of a lease dispute is an unlawful detainer.
  • Non-Compete Agreement Dispute: A non-compete is a contract that prevents employees from working for, or creating, a similar business for a predetermined period. Companies use non-competes to maintain a competitive edge in the free market. However, disputes arise regarding the enforceability of the agreement. For example, a non-compete signed in Georgia is unenforceable in Oklahoma. Other states, such as California, do not recognize the non-compete agreement.
  • Sale of Goods Contracts Disputes: This contract dispute commonly arises from transactions between merchants and suppliers under the Georgia Commercial Code.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements: Short for NDAs; this contract binds an employee privy to confidential information, such as trade secrets or proprietary material, to secrecy. Disputes regarding NDAs typically arise when the company sues an estranged employee for divulging information.
  • Consumer Contract Disputes: Consumer contract disputes often arise from the enforceability of the warranty on a good. A warranty is a legally binding declaration from the producer stating that a product is factory fit. A product warranty also indemnifies the buyer unless he/she is responsible for the damage.

What is Georgia Contract Law?

A body of statutes (Title 13 of the Original Code of Georgia Annotated) that make provisions for how contracts are prepared, executed, as well as reliefs for contract disputes. Per O. C. G. A. § 13–1–1, Georgia contract laws make provisions for agreements by parties regarding mutual responsibilities or obligations to do or not to do some specified thing. Also, Georgia contract laws make provisions for: 

  • The execution of a contract in O. C. G. A. § 13–1–2; 
  • The conditional and absolute nature of the contract in O. C. G. A. § 13–1–7; 
  • The severability of a contract in O. C. G. A. § 13–1–8; and,
  • The modification, extinguishment, and renewal of a contract in O. C. G. A. TITLE 13 Chapter 4.

What is a Breach of Contract in Georgia?

A breach of contract refers to where one or both parties fail to execute assumed obligations per O. C. G. A. § 13–1–2.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Georgia?

The remedies for a breach of contract are on a case-by-case basis, and the court may order one or more remedies depending on the extent of the breach of contract. The remedies for a breach of contract under Georgia Laws include:

  • Rescission: A rescission restores the parties as far as is possible to their original position before entering into the contract, e.g., for non-performance (O. C. G. A. § 13–4–62). Rescission is an equitable remedy; the injured party must be able and willing to restore what he has received under it, e.g., for fraud (O. C. G. A. § 13–4–60).
  • Damages: Here, the court determines that there is quantifiable loss and seeks to put the claimants in the position they would have been if the contract been executed. Thus, damages are compensatory, rather than punitive (O. C. G. A. § 13–6–1). The award of damages depends on whether the contract is entire or severable per O. C. G. A. § 13–1–8. In the former, the court awards damages as a lump remedy, while in the latter the suit and remedy fall under separate legal actions (O. C. G. A. § 13–6–14).
  • Specific Performance: The injured parties seek a court order compelling the reneging party to fulfill their contractual obligations. Here, the injured party has proven that an equitable remedy (rescission) or the award of damages would be inadequate.

A person who intends to file a breach of contract claim must submit a complaint at the Clerk’s office in the court of jurisdiction (i.e., the municipal court, state court, civil court, or the superior court). The complaint must describe the following details: 

  • The validity of the contract
  • Fulfillment of obligations by the aggrieved party
  • Evidence of breach of contract
  • Evidence of informing the other party of a breach of contract
  • Evidence or sustained loss or estimation of loss

Without these requirements, the court will not accept a suit for breach of contract. Furthermore, the legal action for a breach of contract must begin before the statute of limitation expires, i.e., within four to six years (O. C. G. A. § 9–3–25; O. C. G. A. § 9–3–24)..

Meanwhile, in filing a claim for a breach of contract, the initial burden of proof rests on the claimant. Thus, the claimant must support the claim with affidavits, dispositions, and other documentary evidence. Thereafter, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that no such term/condition exists in the contract per the pieces of evidence submitted. The defendant may also support his/her position with documentary evidence.

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

The following legal arguments nullify a claim of breach of contract in Georgia:

  • Duress per O. C. G. A. § 13–5–6
  • Minor status: limited under O. C. G. A. § 13–5–3;
  • A mistake of fact or law (O. C. G. A. § 13–5–4);
  • Release by consent (O. C. G. A. § 13–5–7);
  • A fact establishing that the contract was not obligatory, though subject to execution (O. C. G. A. § 13–5–1);
  • Incapacity of a party to contract per O. C. G. A. § 13–5–2. This argument is often used where the contract was made under inebriation. Drunk parties are liable for their actions. Nevertheless, the defendant must prove that the claimant was aware of their inability to contract and exploited this incapacity;

What are Property Disputes in Georgia?

A property dispute refers to disagreements involving an entity that is subject to ownership, i.e., the property as defined in O. C. G. A. § 44–1–1. Per the Georgia Property Code, a property includes realty, water, personal estate, and animals.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Georgia?

Some of the commonly reported property disputes in Georgia involve:

  • Easement dispute
  • Real estate fraud
  • Title dispute
  • Landlord-tenant dispute
  • Boundary dispute
  • Intellectual property dispute
  • Water rights dispute
  • Dispute on the transfer of property by will

How to Find Property Lines

Property lines are clearly defined points that show land boundaries; the lines show where a person’s land ends and where the neighboring lands begin. Details of property lines are typically on the deed after a real estate survey. Nevertheless, interested individuals may find information on property lines at the office of the County Assessor or the local planning office.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

Cornell University Law School maintains a directory of the contact information of lawyers who specialize in real estate and property disputes in Georgia. Intending litigants may also use the member directory on the Georgia State Bar website.

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