| Read Time: 4 minutes | Business Law
contract dispute resolution

well-written contract establishes clear expectations and protects the interests of all parties involved. Disputes, however, can arise even with the best contracts, and they often must be settled legally.

Such contract disputes can be complex challenges that, if handled improperly, can have a huge negative financial impact on any individual, business, or organization.

Let’s take a closer look at the approaches for resolving contract disputes in the Lone Star State, what to consider when choosing a resolution method, and how an experienced business attorney like the team at Massingill Law can help.

Common Contract Disputes

A contract dispute arises when one or more parties involved in a contract disagree about the agreement’s terms, obligations, or performance. Common types of contract disputes include:

  • Breach of contract. A breach of contract occurs when one party fails to fulfill its obligations under the contract, such as failing to deliver goods or services as agreed.
  • Interpretation issues. Disputes may arise when the contract’s language is unclear or ambiguous, leading to disagreements over the intended meaning of certain terms or provisions.
  • Performance disputes. These disputes involve disagreements over whether a party has performed its obligations under the contract satisfactorily.
  • Payment disputes. Parties may disagree about the amount or timing of payments owed under the contract.

Contract disputes can arise in various industries and contexts, from construction and real estate, where disagreements over project timelines and quality of work can occur, to business agreements, where issues like non-payment or breach of confidentiality can arise, and employment contracts, where disputes over termination or non-compete clauses are common.

Contract law covers a vast array of topics and ranges in complexity, so it’s important to seek guidance from an experienced Texas attorney during the drafting process, especially if any conflicts arise.

Resolving Contract Disputes

While many assume contract disputes can only be decided by a court, parties have several options to resolve such disagreements. Consult a contract dispute attorney to determine which approach is best for your situation.

Negotiation and Settlement

This approach involves direct discussions between the parties to resolve the dispute without involving third parties. Negotiation can be a cost-effective and efficient way to reach a resolution, especially when both parties are willing to cooperate and compromise.


Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties. The goal of mediation is to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation can be less adversarial than litigation and may help preserve relationships between the parties.


Arbitration is a more formal process than mediation and can be either binding or non-binding, depending on the agreement of the parties.

If the contract includes a binding arbitration clause or the parties agree to submit to arbitration voluntarily, an arbitrator will hear the dispute and render a decision. Arbitration can be faster and more private than litigation, but the parties may have limited ability to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.


If the parties are unsuccessful in negotiating a settlement or unwilling to do so, they may need to file a lawsuit in Texas state court or federal court to resolve the dispute.

Litigation is often a last resort when other methods of resolution have failed. The process includes pre-trial discovery, motions, and a trial. Litigation can be time-consuming and costly, but it may be necessary to enforce contractual rights or seek damages. 

Choosing a Contract Dispute Resolution Method

When selecting the most appropriate method for resolving a Texas contract dispute, consider several important factors first.

  • Cost—including legal fees, arbitration or mediation costs, and potential court fees;
  • Time—look at the amount of time each method might take, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation, and weigh this against the urgency of the matter;
  • Complexity—assess the complexity of the dispute and whether a simpler, less formal method like negotiation or mediation would be sufficient;
  • Confidentiality—determine the level of confidentiality desired, as mediation and arbitration proceedings are typically more confidential than litigation; and
  • Preservation of relationships—consider the impact of each method on the ongoing relationship between the parties and choose a method that minimizes potential damage.

Careful consideration of these factors allows parties to choose the most suitable method for resolving their contract dispute in Texas.

Seeking legal help as soon as possible is also crucial, as a skilled attorney can provide valuable direction on the best approach based on the specific circumstances of the dispute and be your guide and advocate throughout the process.

Potential Remedies

Determining damages in a contract dispute is based on the principle of compensation, meaning that the goal is to put the non-breaching party in the same position they would have been in if the contract had been performed. 

  • Compensatory damages. These compensate the non-breaching party for the actual financial losses caused by the breach. 
  • Consequential damages. Also known as special damages, these are damages that result indirectly from the breach and were foreseeable by the parties when they entered into the contract. 
  • Punitive damages. These punish the breaching party for particularly egregious conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. However, punitive damages are rare in Texas contract law and are more commonly awarded in cases of intentional torts.
  • Liquidated damages. These damages are specified in the contract itself, either as a fixed amount or as a formula. Liquidated damages usually compensate the non-breaching party for specific types of harm that are difficult to quantify.

In some contract disputes, specific actions may be ordered in addition to or in lieu of monetary damages.

  • Specific Performance. This remedy requires the breaching party to fulfill their contractual obligations as specified in the contract. It is typically used when monetary damages are inadequate to compensate for the breach.
  • Injunctive Relief. This remedy prohibits the breaching party from taking certain actions or requires them to perform specific actions. It is often used to prevent irreparable harm.
  • Equitable Remedies. These remedies are granted at the court’s discretion and are intended to provide a fair outcome, such as rescission or reformation of the contract terms.

These alternative damages aim to provide the non-breaching party with a remedy that best suits the circumstances of the breach and helps to achieve a fair and just outcome.

Trust the Texas Contract Dispute Lawyers at Massingill Law

If you are involved in a contract dispute and don’t know where to turn, call the business law attorneys at Massingill today. With a track record of delivering successful outcomes for clients in Texas, our team is here to help simplify complex issues and guide you through this stressful time.

Whether through negotiation or litigation, we have the expertise to help you achieve the best outcome. Give us a call to schedule a consultation, or fill out our online contact form to get started.

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Joshua Massingill

Joshua Massingill is an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas. He serves on the Texas State Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee, the Leander Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) Board of Directors, and the Success-Werx Board of Advisors. He mentors young entrepreneurs in Leander ISD’s INCubatorEDU program and is active in his church.

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