A breach of contract can be considered as either ‘material’ or ‘non-material’. A non-material breach is the less serious of the two. A non-material breach is one which pertains to a minor or ancillary detail of the contract. For example, a non-material breach would occur if a homeowner and an electrician agreed to have the electrician wire the home using a type of yellow wire but the electrician ended up using blue wire. This is a non-material breach because it does not go to the heart of the contract. Although the color of the insulation on the wire is different this is merely a minor deviation as the color does not impact the functionality of the wire. Furthermore the deviation in color isn’t even visible since the wires are hidden within the walls of the home.
A material breach would be considered as a more serious form of breaking a contract. A material breach negatively affects the value of the contract and considered a failure to perform an essential element of the contract. If we go back to our example of the homeowner and electrician, let’s assume that the agreement was to install copper wiring due to its greater reliability and durability. However, to save money on materials, the contractor uses aluminum wiring which is more prone to failure and requires additional care if future work on the electrical system is performed. This is a material breach because the defect in the performance of the agreement goes to the performance, durability, and safety of the electrical system itself, or “heart of the matter”.
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