Specific performance can be used as a remedy in certain cases of breach of contract. I’ll explain in a bit exactly what specific performance is as well as give an example of what type of case(s) it can be applied to. As you’ll see the doctrine of specific performance can be a very fair remedy in many cases and is one of the most common remedies used by courts. There are two different types of remedies in contract breach cases. Remedies at law are usually awarded as monetary damages. The second type is remedies in equity, which are only awarded when remedy at law is not adequate to cover losses (Miller & Jentz, 2008).
The three most common forms of equitable remedies are rescission and restitution, specific performance, and reformation. Specific performance requires the act promised in the contract be performed by the breaching party. The non-breaching party is typically a fan of this remedy because they will be awarded what was originally contracted. This type of remedy could actually be more valuable to the non-breaching party than monetary damages (Miller & Jentz, 2008). Contracts for the sale of goods are rarely remedied with specific performance. According to Miller and Jentz (2008), one of the few exceptions to this rule is when the goods are unique in nature (art, collectable coins, rare edition books, etc.) because monetary damages would not help the buyer to find identical substitutes. For the following three case examples, we will only focus on specific performance as the available remedy: Scenario 1
Tarrington contracts to sell her house and lot to Rainier. Then, on finding another buyer willing to pay a higher purchase price, she refuses to deed the property to Rainier. Scenario 2 Marita contracts to sing and dance in Horace’s nightclub for one month, beginning June 1. She then refuses to perform. Scenario 3 Juan contracts to purchase a rare coin from Edmund, who is breaking up his coin collection. At the last minute, Edmund decides to keep his coin collection intact and refuses to deliver the coin to Juan. Scenario 4
Astro Computer Corp. has three shareholders. Among them are Coase, who owns 48%, and Cary, who owns 4%. Cary contracts to sell his 4% to DeValle but later refuses to transfer the shares to him.
After the previous explanation of when specific performance and when it may or may not be used in court. I would think the only scenario above that would NOT be remedied correctly with specific performance is the first one which involves real estate. As I shared earlier, cases involving sale of goods like land are typically better remedied by monetary damages being recovered by the non-breaching party. Scenarios two and four are self explanatory as to why they could be remedied by specific performance. Scenario three involves a rare coin, which is the only reason it could qualify for the doctrine of specific performance.