At Antonoplos & Associates, our group of DC personal services contract litigation attorneys has the knowledge and experience necessary to resolve a variety of disputes concerning contracts and agreements in most businesses and industries.

Personal, Professional, and Consulting Service Contracts

Personal services contracts—also known as professional service agreements—are meant to bind entities that have certain skills or knowledge. Furthermore, these contracts are commonly used when the skills or knowledge of an entity are not easily substituted, and when only these skills can perform a specific action. The reason why one would utilize this contract is to ensure that the person with the special or unique skill or knowledge will go through with the agreed-upon work when a replacement is not sufficient or available. Because of the binding and specialized nature of these agreements, they are typically only valid when both parties consent to their creation.

Examples of Personal Services Contracts

Personal service contracts most commonly appear in the following industries: finance, the performing arts, entertainment, sports, design, healthcare, and law. For example, one may use a personal service contract between a musician and a concert venue, a celebrity and endorsement company, and an elderly person and a home caregiver. Additionally, the government may use personal services contracts with skilled individuals or between a consulting firm and the company that they are servicing.

How Disputes Arise Pertaining to Personal Service Contracts

The most common reason why legal disputes arise concerning personal service contracts is that the contracted may be improperly terminated, the quality of service provided may be disputed, or the length of the contract is unclear. Additionally, the most common reason for a dispute is that one party does not fulfill their duties as outlined by the contract or perform these services in a negligent and unsatisfactory manner. Finally, legal issues may ensue because the contract was made under fraudulent misrepresentation. Another situation that may occur is that one party signed the contract when they lacked capacity or experienced undue influence or unconscionability.

Remedies

When one party breaches its personal services contract, it may seem logical that the courts would use specific performance to ensure that the entity completes the service or job. However, because they do not want to force people to partake in actions that they do not want to, the courts attempt to use other remedies instead of specific performance.

Instead of specific performance, the party that broke the agreement will have to pay the other party damages or simply reimburse any sunk costs that the other party already put into the project. Another common way the courts combat broken contracts is to use injunctions to stop the breaching party from working on another project before completing the job they are already working on.

Finally, the courts may use the principle of force majeure for personal services contracts. Force majeure is the legal principle that allows for the termination of the contract or postponement of a party’s obligations where events occur that were outside the control of the parties and makes complying with the contract impossible. However, the applicability of force majeure depends on the contract and where you are trying to enforce the contract. If force majeure is not applicable, parties may seek to utilize the principle of frustration. Frustration can achieve similar goals compared to force majeure. However, it is more limited in its application than force majeure.

At Antonoplos & Associates, our DC personal services contract litigation attorneys review your rights, obligations, and options regarding your contract, including options for enforcing specific performance, obtaining alternative performance, or equitable claims for unjust enrichment in the event of a purported termination. Our law firm also commonly advises and represents you with respect to any post-contractual obligations, including non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality clauses.

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