Q: My client never signed our contract, would they be held to the terms of it?
My company conducts estate sales. We take jobs by the value of our clients belongings. Our client received the contract where we state you cannot remove any items from the home as they are deemed for sale. They ignored this & took out items anyway. This was in breach of contract. The client also violated the contract in several other ways. But they also never signed it (received it via email and read it) So we ceased service before the job ended. The client took thousands of dollars worth of items out & we would have lost money. Are we due what we would have made or just what we made thus far? I think I should receive further damages for the labor costs/work/advertising/reputation damage this has done. If they aren’t held to the contract how can I use that to my advantage? We ran the sale for 1 day (of 3 planned) I have all the collected money from the sale, they want 100% of profits returned to them I won’t return it until I know what I have to give them.
A: Since the contract was not signed, that makes things more difficult. If there is litigation, you can claim that they verbally agreed to the terms of the contract. They can dispute that. If you can't work it out with them, then they might sue you to collect the proceeds you have retained. You can counter-claim against them for breach of contract. Depending on how much money is in dispute, litigation might not be cost-effective. Use the Find a Lawyer tab to retain a local attorney to review all the facts. And always be sure the client signs the contract.
A: The absence of an executed contract will make it more difficult to collect the full value of the contract but it, by itself, does not render the contract unenforceable. I must assume that you were unaware of the items that were taken before the sale began. Taking items would constitute a material breach of the contract excusing the the performance of the remainder of the contract.
I believe that you are entitled to retain from the sales proceeds that portion of the proceeds that the contract states. However, I do not believe that you are entitled to other damages. When the items were missing you cancelled the balance of the contract. Your other losses would have been mitigated had you performed the balance of the contract and sued for the breach. Since you cancelled the contract those other damages are probably not available.
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