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Hawaii Court Records

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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Hawaii

Contract and property disputes are civil disputes that involve disagreements over contract terms, property ownership, or property boundaries. In Hawaii, two courts have jurisdiction over civil disputes, depending on the contested amount. District courts handle landlord-tenant disputes, and civil issues where the amount or value contested does not exceed $40,000. Circuit courts have a general jurisdiction in civil cases and exclusively manage civil disputes where the contested amount or value exceeds $40,000.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Hawaii?

A contract is a mutual agreement that is legally binding between two or more parties. When a party to a contract disagrees about one or more of the terms of the contract, a dispute occurs. Disputes can arise from a breach or the question of the validity of a contract. Typically, contracts contain each party’s responsibilities; when one party fails to perform the party’s responsibilities as detailed in the contract, disputes may arise.

For a contract to be legally enforceable, there must be consent, consideration, and acceptance. According to Hawaii laws (HI Rev Stat § 656–2), consideration does not need to be in writing or signed by a party to the contract. Case parties may present evidence of consideration in other legally acceptable forms.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Hawaii?

The most common contract disputes in Hawaii are:

  • Failure to comply: If a party fails to comply with the contract terms, disputes may arise.
  • Disputes resulting from changed conditions: Contract disputes may arise when there are unexpected changes in conditions or circumstances surrounding the fulfillment of a contract.
  • Errors and omissions in the contract: Disputes may arise if one party to a contract finds that another party omitted important details and conditions or if such details are omitted.
  • Offer and acceptance disputes: Contract disputes arise when parties do not agree about contract offers.
  • Fraud and coercion: Disputes may arise if one party uses force or coercion to secure another party’s agreement to the contract
  • Disputes about contract terms: Disputes may arise from disagreements about contract terms.

What is Hawaii Contract Law?

Hawaii’s contract law (HI Rev Stat § 656–1) provides for the actionability or enforceability of contracts. It addresses instances where claimants may bring legal action against a respondent. For example, in Hawaii, oral contracts are only enforceable when a party has fulfilled part of the terms. In the following cases, a claimant cannot bring legal action against a respondent in Hawaii:

  • A personal representative who promised to answer for damages out of the representative’s coffers
  • When a party makes an agreement in consideration of marriage
  • Any contract that is not to be executed within one year of its creation
  • A deceased person’s estate for a contract, which, according to the terms, could not be executed in the promisor’s lifetime

What is a Breach of Contract in Hawaii?

A contract breach occurs when one party does not fulfill the party’s responsibilities as laid out in the contract terms. Additionally, if the party fails to perform the party’s responsibility according to the standards detailed in the contract or industry standards, it is also a contract breach. A breach can only take place when a contract is valid and enforceable. This means that all contract elements, including an offer, acceptance, consideration, and consent, must be present.

Contract breaches can be material or immaterial. Material contract breaches are major, can affect the fulfillment of a contract, and may result in damages to the non-breaching party. Immaterial contract breaches are minor. An immaterial breach does not affect contract fulfillment, although the breach may be a violation of the contract terms.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Hawaii?

The remedy that the court issues for a contract breach depends on the type of contract breach. Material breaches often attract damages, while immaterial breaches may only lead to contract performance. Here are some remedies for a breach of contract in Hawaii:

  • Goods replacement
  • Liquidated damages
  • Expense reimbursement
  • Attorney fee recovery
  • Rescission
  • Restitution
  • Specific contract performance
  • Punitive damages
  • Nominal damages
  • Compensatory damages

In order for the non-breaching party to be eligible to recover damages, the breaching party must have transcended the contract breach and violated an independently recognized duty.

In Hawaii, small claims courts hear cases where the amount or value in contention is no more than $5,000. Interested parties must file claims in person at local District Court Legal Documents Branches. The court will require petitioners to pay filing fees of $35 and schedule the case within 30 days of filing. The defendant must present proof of the claimed amount or damages, including contract copies, witnesses, and other forms of evidence.

At the first court date, parties in Hawaii small claims cases must undergo mediation at court. If trained mediators cannot help the case parties resolve the case, the case will proceed to trial. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue a verdict. Petitioners must note that it is impossible to appeal a small claims court verdict.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in Hawaii?

Possible defenses against a breach of contract claim in Hawaii include:

  • Unfairness: If the court determines that the terms of a contract are unfair to one party, the court may declare the contract invalid, and therefore impossible to breach
  • Validity: For a breach to occur, a contract must be valid. The court may determine that a contract is invalid if it is not legally binding. In which case, a breach would not have occurred.
  • Errors and Omissions: If there is an error or omission in the contract terms that could affect one party’s ability to fulfill the party’s obligation, it is a defense against a breach of contract claim.
  • Fraud: Fact misrepresentation and other fraudulent acts are defenses against breach of contract claims.

What are Property Disputes in Hawaii?

Property disputes are disagreements about real property. Property disputes may range from landlord-tenant disputes to disagreements over property boundaries. Legal property disputes can impact a property’s value, and legal disputes may be expensive. Hawaii statutes guide and provide legislation for real estate transactions and contracts.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Hawaii?

Some types of property disputes in Hawaii include:

  • Construction litigation
  • Lease disputes (residential and commercial)
  • Landlord/tenant disputes
  • Title claims
  • Boundary line disputes
  • Partition suits
  • Sale or contract disputes
  • Variances
  • Easements
  • Trespassing
  • Property code violations

How to Find Property Lines

Property lines mark boundaries between properties. Property lines determine where one property ends and another begins and marks where structures and monuments, such as fences, driveways, and garages.

In order to find property lines in Hawaii, interested parties may use the Hawaii Statewide Geospatial Data Portal, a service that the Hawaii State Office of Planning provides. The GIS service provides information about property and zoning boundaries, homeowner information, property size, perimeter, and land value. Interested parties may also find Hawaii property maps on third-party websites.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

Interested parties may search for local property dispute lawyers using third-party websites. Parties may also contact the state bar association and other legal aid providers for resources and information on how to find local property dispute lawyers in Hawaii.

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