Cardinal-Change Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Cardinal-change doctrine refers to the legal principle of releasing a contractor from the obligation to work under the contract when government has made a cardinal change in a contract. Under this doctrine, when a contractor claims a cardinal change in a contract then it is essentially an assertion that the government has breached the contract. The purpose of the cardinal-change doctrine is to provide a breach remedy for contractors who are directed by the government to perform work which is not within the general scope of the contract. [Allied Materials & Equipment Co. v. United States, 215 Ct. Cl. 406, 409 (Ct. Cl. 1978)]. The cardinal-change doctrine is a unique doctrine of federal contract law that allows a contractor to seek redress from the U.S. government.