Legal Memorandum: Claim for Breach of a Written Contract

Issue: Under the laws of California, what are the prerequisites for stating a claim based on a written contract if the contract is not written in English?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Prerequisites; Breach of a written contract
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 25 Cal. App. 3d 325; 166 Cal. App. 3d 452
Cited Statutes: Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 185 (1982)
Date: 01/01/2000

        In order to state a cause of action for breach of a written contract, a plaintiff must either set out the terms of the contract verbatim in the complaint or attach a copy of the contract and incorporate it by reference.  Otworth v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co. (1985) 166 Cal. App. 3d 452, 459.           

The California Civil Code requires that "[e]very written proceeding in a court of justice in this state shall be in the English language, and judicial proceedings shall be conducted, preserved, and published in no other."  Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 185 (1982).  This provision, however, has been used to prevent a foreign country’s judgment from being enforced against a California resident without the resident understanding that the documents had legal significance (Julen v. Larson (1972) 25 Cal. App. 3d 325, 328) and in issues involving interpreters (People v. Brown (1980) 110 Cal. App. 3d 24, 35).  The provision has not been used as a shield to prevent enforcement of a contract.


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