What is SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE? What does SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE mean? SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE meaning - SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE definition - SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
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Specific performance is an order of a court which requires a party to perform a specific act, usually what is stated in a contract. It is an alternative to awarding damages and is classed as an equitable remedy commonly used in the form of injunctive relief concerning confidential information or real property. While specific performance can be in the form of any type of forced action, it is usually to complete a previously established transaction, thus being the most effective remedy in protecting the expectation interest of the innocent party to a contract. It is usually the opposite of a prohibitory injunction, but there are mandatory injunctions that have a similar effect to specific performance.
Under common law, specific performance was not a remedy, with the rights of a litigant being limited to the collection of damages. However, the court of equity developed the remedy of specific performance as damages often could not adequately compensate someone for the inability to own a particular piece of real property, land being regarded as unique. Specific performance is often guaranteed through the remedy of a right of possession, giving the plaintiff the right to take possession of the property in dispute. However, in the case of personal performance contracts, it may also be ensured through the threat of proceedings for contempt of court.
Orders of specific performance are granted when damages are not an adequate remedy and in some specific cases, such as land sale. Such orders are discretionary, as with all equitable remedies, so the availability of this remedy depends on whether it is appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
An order of specific performance is generally not granted if any of the following is true:
Specific performance would cause severe hardship to the defendant.
The contract was unconscionable.
Common Law damages are readily available or the detriment suffered by the claimant is easy to substitute, then damages are adequate
The claimant has misbehaved (unclean hands).
Specific performance is impossible.
Performance consists of a personal service
The contract is too vague to be enforced.
The contract was terminable at will (meaning either party can renege without notice).
Note that consumer protection laws may disallow terms that allow a company to terminate a consumer contract at will (e.g. Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999)
The contract required constant supervision.
Mutuality was lacking in the initial agreement of the contract.
The contract was made for no consideration.
Specific performance will not be granted for contracts which are void or unenforceable. The exception to this (in equity) is in relation estoppel or part performance.
Where an injunction to restrain an employee from working for a rival employer will be granted even though specific performance cannot be obtained. The leading case is Lumley v Wagner, which is an English decision.
Additionally, in England and Wales, under s. 50 of the Senior Courts Act 1981, the High Court has a discretion to award a claimant damages in lieu of specific performance (or an injunction). Such damages will normally be assessed on the same basis as damages for breach of contract, namely to place the claimant in the position he would have been had the contract been carried out.
In practice, specific performance is most often used as a remedy in transactions regarding land, such as in the sale of land where the vendor refuses to convey title. The reason being that land is unique and that there is not another legal remedy available to put the non-breaching party in the same position had the contract been performed.