A breach of a contract will not bring a contract automatically to an end (unless the contract expressly states that is what should occur). Normally a breach just gives a right to ‘damages’ (that is, the right to sue for any loss caused by the breach of contract) and the obligations under the contract continue to be binding.
But when the breach of contract is a serious breach or a breach of an essential term, the other party will have a right to choose to terminate the contract or keep the contract going. However, your contract may require the hirer to provide you with a ‘notice to remedy a breach’ before it can be terminated.
Example of a Breach of an Essential Term. Andy has a contract with Remus Ltd to develop new software by 30th April. Remus Ltd requires the software by this time because it has promised clients that from 1st June the software will be available for sale. If Andy fails to develop the software by 30th April, this will be a breach of an essential term because it is essential to Remus Ltd that the software be ready in time.
It is not always easy to know whether a particular breach by the other party is serious enough to allow you to end the contract. If you try to terminate a contract for breach where you have no right to, the termination will have no effect, and you will still be required to comply with the rest of the contract.
One way to reduce the risk is to include in your contract a provision which expressly states that if a particular term is breached, the other party has the right to terminate the contract. Always seek advice before you try to end a contract in this way. Having a good dispute resolution clause in the contract will help manage these issues.