If you are a government contractor, learning how to assess breach of contract damages in government claims is critical to recovering all damages that your company deserves.
For example, you can bring suit for breach of contract under the Contract Disputes Act in the Court of Federal Claims (COFC.) You can also bring a lawsuit at the Board of Contract Appeals because, under 41 U.S.C.A. Section 607(d), the Board is authorized to grant you relief that would be available if you had filed at the COFC.
At this court, you can prevail and be awarded various breach of contract damages, including expectation damages, reliance or restitution damages.
Types of Breach of Contract Damages
This means that you, as the non-breaching party can recover your entitlements had there not been a breach. In order to recover your government breach of contract damages, you must prevail on certain burdens of proof.
This level of breach of contract damages would put you, as the non-beaching party, in a place that you would have been had you not entered into the contract. The court would in essence award you the cost incurred simply because you relied upon the contract.
These breach of contract damages can be awarded on government contract because it would restore you as the non-breaching party, to a position had there not been a contract to breach in the first place.
In limited situations, you can see an equitable adjustment to the contract from the COFC if it meets the calculation criteria under the equitable adjustment clause.
This occurs in situations where the contract is somehow deemed invalid and the only way the court can craft breach of contract damages is through equitable relief. Quantum Meruit, or Quantum, is a common practice for many government contract lawyers. See more information about quantum meruit claims.
Can You Recover Legal Costs in a Breach of Contract Damages Claim?
If you prevail in a contract claim at the Court of Federal Claims, you can sometimes recoup legal costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
This Act allows you to recoup legal fees and expenses in civil actions for breach of contract claims against the government. There is a cap depending upon your business size or assets. See 28 U.S.C.A. Section 2412.
Cost Benefit Analysis for Litigation: As a business owner or executive, you also have to balance the risk of loss in the lawsuit for government breach of contract damages. If the stakes are high, then it may be worth filing a claim against the government.
If the stakes are high, then it may be worth filing a claim against the government. The best approach to deciding whether you have breach of contract damages is to first understand the terms and incorporated clauses in your government contract.
- Keep in mind that there is a statutory claims process that you must follow.
- Although you might have a strong breach of contract case, you might end up losing because of procedural errors.
- Careful analysis up front is the key.
Sometimes, you might want to evaluate settlement options at a lower level. Every case is fact specific. Having a government contracts dispues attorney to evaluate your case with both facts and legal authority can be extremely beneficial to maximize your damages.
Understand the Binding Authority at the COFC: If you file a case for breach of contract damages or claims case at the COFC, it is important to understand how the merits of the case are decided.
You will more than likely be challenging the Contracting Officer’s final decision. Here, the COFC reviews the factual and legal findings from scratch (de novo).
In addition, this Court is not bound by the decisions of other COFC judges. Therefore, a breach of contract lawyer may want to look for U.S. Supreme Court cases or Federal Circuit cases as precedent.
Appealing Your Government Breach of Contract Claim
If for some reason you have lost your case at either the Board of Contract Appeals or the Court of Federal Claims, you could appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit. There is a timeline of 60 days from the date of the decision to file a Notice of Appeal.
- Note that appealing a government contracts decision is predicated on specific rules.
- It is not a Court in which you get to retry your case.
If you are contemplating filing breach of contract damages claims against the government, contact a government contract claims lawyer or call 1-866-601-5518 for a Free Initial Consultation.