Anticipatory Breach

DEFINITION of 'Anticipatory Breach'

In contract law, an action that shows a party's intention to fail to perform or fulfill its contractual obligations to another party. An anticipatory breach negates the counterparty's responsibility to perform its requirements under the contract. By demonstrating a party's intention to breach, the counterparty may also begin legal action.

Also referred to as an "anticipatory repudiation."

BREAKING DOWN 'Anticipatory Breach'

An anticipatory breach occurs when a party demonstrates its intention to break a contract. However, vocal or written confirmation is not required, and failure to perform an obligation in a timely matter can result in a breach. By declaring an anticipatory breach, the counterparty may begin legal action immediately rather than waiting until a contract's terms are actually broken.

For example, if Company A refuses to pay substantial interim payments to Company B, Company B can begin legal action due to anticipatory breach. Company B could also stop performing its contractual obligation, potentially saving time and or money.