What is the breach of contract statute of limitations in California?

Jun 18, 2021 | Tips on Contracts

If you run a business you most likely have entered into a contract with suppliers, clients, employees, financial lenders, etc. As an individual, you also have probably gotten into a contract, for example, with a landlord or personal health insurer at some point.

A contract, which can be oral or written, is a legal agreement between two or more parties which among other things outlines what is expected of all parties, the rights of each party, and how disputes can be resolved if issues arise between the parties that agreed to the contract. With a good contract, you’re protected if one or all parties fails to live up to the terms of the agreement.

Before agreeing to a contract it is advisable that you have a contract attorney negotiate, draft, or go through the contract. This is the only way you can be sure your rights are taken care of should a breach of contract occur.

What Amounts to a Breach of Contract in CA?

If an individual or a company you have a contract with doesn’t honor any of their obligations as per the terms of your agreement, without a legal reason, they’ll have breached the contract. A breach of contract could be as minor as delayed payment, or an extreme violation like a failure to deliver products.

A breach of an oral or written contract can have serious implications for you or your business. For example, if a supplier doesn’t deliver raw materials, you might have to stop the manufacturing of your products and not be able to meet your product’s market demand. This will lead to loss of revenue which could affect cash flow and threaten the success of your business.

What Action Can You Take When a Breach of Contract Occurs?

If you can prove a breach of contract happened you can try resolving the issue among the parties involved or file a lawsuit against the party that didn’t honor their obligation under the contract. To do so you should get in touch with a California contract attorney immediately after the breach of contract happens because there is a time limit, known as the “Statute of Limitations”, within which you can sue for a contract dispute.

The California breach of contract statute of limitations was created to ensure important evidence doesn’t get lost, which can happen if you wait too long before filing a lawsuit, and that witnesses in a legal case have reliable and recent memory on the matter before the court.

The statute of limitations used will depend on whether you entered into an oral or written contract.

  • Statute of Limitations for Breach of Oral Contract

Section 339(1) of the California Code of Civil Procedure states that the statute of limitations for breach of an oral contract is two years.

  • Statute of Limitations for Breach of Written Contract

For a written contract, under the California Code of Civil Procedure section 337(a), the time given to file a lawsuit is four years.

How Does the CA Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations Impact Your Legal Case?

The time limit an aggrieved party has to file a breach of contract lawsuit in California begins to run when they realize there has been a breach of contract. For example, if your supplier doesn’t deliver your products on June 1, 2021, and you can’t sort the issue out, you have until June 1, 2025, if you have a written contract with them, or June 2, 2023, for an oral contract, to take legal action if you choose to.

If you try to file a breach of contract lawsuit outside the statute of limitation, a California court is unlikely to hear your case. Even if the court hears it there is a high chance you’ll lose because the defendant is likely to bring a motion to dismiss on grounds that you didn’t comply with the breach of contract statute of limitations in California. The court is likely to accept their motion to dismiss and you’ll have lost out on any compensation you would have received from the breach of contract.

It is possible to pause the statute of limitation for a certain period, for example, a year. This is known as tolling. You, however, have to have a very valid reason why the time limit for you to take legal action when a breach of contract occurs should be temporarily halted.

Possible reasons for tolling could be the defendant is in prison, has left California, or is a minor. If you’re successful in tolling the breach of contract statute of limitations in California, once the tolling period ends the time limit to file a lawsuit continues again.

Gallagher Krich, APC: Your California Breach of Contract Attorneys

If you find yourself in a situation involving a breach of an oral or written contract you’ll need a good contract lawyer. Our attorneys at Gallagher Krich, APC, have handled numerous contract disputes, so our expertise can be of great value in your California breach of contract lawsuit. We can represent you in legal cases involving sales, employment, and service contracts, non-compete agreements, contractor/subcontractor contracts, and many more types of contract litigations.

When you contact our law firm an attorney will look at your contract and investigate the facts to see if there has been a breach of contract. They’ll then advise on the legal cause of action you can take to get compensation for the breach of contract. Our attorneys are certified mediators so before filing a breach of contract lawsuit we can help with alternative dispute resolution methods.

Don’t wait too long after a breach of contract has happened because as you have read you have to file a lawsuit within the breach of contract statute of limitations in California. So time is of the essence. Get in touch today at (858) 926-5797 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

Latest News & Updates

Meet Our San Diego Attorneys

Thomas F. Gallagher, Esq.


(858) 926-5797
tom [at] tomgallagherlaw.com

Troy B. Krich, Esq.


(858) 926-5797
troy [at] tomgallagherlaw.com

Contact Gallagher Krich, APC

What Clients Say:

Mike K., Google

August 11, 2023

Thank you so much for all your help in resolving a real estate matter so quickly and efficiently.

Mike K

What Clients Say:

Veronica D., Yelp

October 17, 2023

We had the pleasure of speaking with Troy for a contractor issue we had recently. He is smart, patient, empathetic and basically the lawyer we would want to be our side for (may God forbids) any legal assistance or battle we need! The interaction we had with him was “free of charge” but we already felt his dedication and concern (he took the time to reach out and follow up on how he can assist us further) which busy lawyers would normally ask their admin or assistant to do so on their behalf. We will be sure to contact again Troy, if need be! Thank you!!

Veronica D

What Clients Say:

Daniel E., Google

October 11, 2022

I left a voicemail for Tom late Sunday evening and received a phone call first thing the next morning.

Tom was very quick to reply to any questions I had, and if he was caught up in a meeting, he was sure to return my call promptly.

Tom provided sound and logical advice, during a very stressful and uncertain time. At times I asked him to be more aggressive and was often met with the pros and cons of that decision, allowing me to understand the approach and thought process behind his strategy.

Ultimately he provided options for several paths for us to take, worked swiftly, and got us where we needed to be.

He reached out several times to check on my sanity and make sure I was good.

As someone with very high expectations, I would highly recommend his services. He provided expertise that proved to be successful, and also took the time to make sure I was emotionally solid.

Tom assisted with me with a 50% / 50% ownership conflict.

Daniel E

What Clients Say:

Deanna, LawConnect.com

February 23, 2022

Really informative and actionable, very grateful to have connected and I look forward to working more with them in the future.


What Clients Say:

Marilyn, LawConnect.com

February 8, 2022

i liked that a lawyer, and not a staff member, called me to get the details and he gave me his opinion of what his initial thoughts are about my case.


What Clients Say:

Bob W., Google

August 30, 2021

What was thought to be a simple breach of contract turned into a nightmare. Through their tenacity and their deep knowledge of the law, we were successful. There is no reason to look any further as you will not get any better representation than this firm. I highly recommend them and strongly suggest that if you are considering starting a business or are already managing one, this firm will guide you, avoiding the troubled waters businesses sometimes find themselves in.

Bob W

What Clients Say:

Rasmita M., Google

August 13, 2021

Johnny Nitti helped us with our estate plan. He was very meticulous while drafting the plan and spent enough time to explain the details to us. He filed the deed with county recorder and paid for the fees himself. Overall, Johnny did a great job and we definitely plan to work with him in the future for any updates to our EP.

Rasmita M

What Clients Say:

George A., Google

August 6, 2021

Johnny Nitti helped me with my estate planning (will, living trust, etc.) and made the process smooth. He is very responsive and organized. I highly recommend contacting Johnny.

George A

What Clients Say:

Ashley C., Google

July 18, 2020

Tom Gallagher is very knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to business law. I reached out to him reguarding the Pandemic and my salon and I’m so glad I did. Many times stress and hard times can fog clarity and he really helped me understand the laws.

Thanks Tom!!!

Ashley C

What Clients Say:

Evan D., Google

July 16, 2019

Thank you Troy for everything! Professional, prompt, and smooth handling of my case. I will be recommending to anyone that is in need of a lawyer.

Evan D