When two parties enter into a contract, they each have responsibilities that both sides have to fulfill. For example, if you enter a contract with a contractor, it's your responsibility to pay. The contractor, however, must fulfill his side by completing the work outlined in the contract. When either party doesn't fulfill the contract, it becomes breached. South Carolina has laws which address the breach of a contract.
Breach of Contract
The legal term "breach of contract" consists of a party breaking a promise by failing to act without a legal excuse to do so. Typically reasons for breaching a contract include not finishing the job, failing to deliver goods or completing inferior work. You can also breach a contract by not paying the other party after he's completed the work. Once the other party breaches the contract, you --- the non-breaching party --- are relieved of your obligations detailed in the contract. Thus, you don't have to pay the contractor because he didn't fulfill his obligation.
South Carolina Nonperformance
South Carolina requires both parties to fulfill their part of the contract unless two things occur. When the parties agree to change the terms of the contract, they don't have to fulfill the original contract. Also, the state doesn't consider the contract breached if one party deviates from the terms and you agree to them.
Limit to File
The state provides you with three years to remedy the situation in court. In South Carolina, the three-year timeframe commences in two situations. You can file a lawsuit within three years of finding out about the breach. For instance, if you paid a contractor to fix wiring behind a wall but you didn't find out that the work wasn't done until you remodeled the house five years later, your time to file starts five years later, not when the work was done. The three years starts after you've failed to negotiate a resolution to the breach.
You don't have to have a written contract for the other party to breach. In South Carolina, you can agree to a party deviating from the contract through action or non-action. For instance, a contractor may not fix a hole in a wall, but repairs a window instead -- which was in the contract. If you don't protest, your non-action ratifies the change in the contract. To start a civil action against the party who breached the contract, you must file a summons and complaint with the local South Carolina clerk of courts.