People talk about contract breaches without always realizing that you can define them in more than one way.
First, it depends on whether the breach has actually occurred yet. Anticipatory breaches are where one party lets the other party know ahead of time that they are not going to fulfill the contract. Actual breaches are where a party has already failed to complete their obligations under the contract.
Breaches can be minor or material
Whether a breach is minor or material is harder to define. It comes down to how much of an issue the breach is. Let’s say a supplier delivers the goods they are required to but does so a day late. A court would probably see this as a minor breach as there is no major harm done and the receiving party did get everything they were meant to shortly after the due date.
If, however, delivering late meant the goods could no longer be used — say a wedding cake that was delivered so late the wedding had already finished — then a court may consider that a major breach.
Another example: A supplier is contracted to deliver a fleet of Ford 4x4s for a corporate off-road driving day. If they turn up with Toyota 4x4s of equal quality, then it is likely to be considered a minor breach. The vehicles could still be used for their intended purpose, and the client could proceed with its off-road driving day. If all they turn up with is a bunch of SUVs that you cannot take off-road, or if they do not turn up at all, it would likely be deemed a material breach.
Understanding how best to describe your case can be essential to understanding any legal options you might have. Having experienced guidance is also crucial.