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Applicability of the Specific Performance Remedy

Business and Commercial Disputes By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/09/21 at 11:28pm

If you have sustained damages in a breach of contract scenario, then — under certain limited circumstances — you may be entitled to equitable relief in the form a specific performance remedy, as opposed to the standard monetary remedy that is usually awarded in breach of contract cases.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics of specific performance and how it works.

What is the Specific Performance Remedy?

Specific performance is a rather unique remedy that is available in a limited set of breach of contract circumstances.  Specific performance compels the defendant to perform their contractual duties, even if they do not wish to do so.  This may include the provision of actual labor, though courts are generally against compelling labor in most situations, particularly where there is a high likelihood of continued hostilities and interaction between the plaintiff and defendant.

In every breach of contract lawsuit, the goal of the court — if there has been a breach — is to adequately compensate the plaintiff.  In most cases, monetary relief is adequate.  For example, if you have sustained damages due to the defendant’s failure to finish constructing your retail store outlet before your grand opening day, that might be compensable through monetary relief that contemplates the lost profits you would have earned if you had been allowed to open, or restitution, among other damages.

Availability of the Specific Performance Remedy

Whether a specific performance remedy will be awarded (instead of monetary relief) depends on a number of factors.  Essentially, it will available under circumstances where the plaintiff can show that:

  1. There are specific terms in the contractual agreement pointing to the duties owed by the breaching defendant; and
  2. Monetary damages would be inadequate.

Whether monetary damages (in a breach of contract dispute) are inadequate is a rather difficult question.  Courts must evaluate the total circumstances in coming to an inadequacy determination.

Generally speaking, if the defendant’s particular provision of goods, services, or property is so fundamentally unique that there is no reasonable alternative available on the market, then that will be enough to show that monetary relief is inadequate.  Alternatively, if you can show that there is no way to reasonably estimate the value of the contract, then specific performance may be necessary – monetary relief is inadequate if a monetary value cannot be attached to the losses.

Contact a Skilled Alexandria Business Attorney for Legal Assistance

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique litigation firm based out of Alexandria, VA, serving individuals and business entities throughout the region in a range of commercial disputes, including those that involve complex or non-standard contracts that may require the imposition of a specific performance remedy to ensure adequate recovery.  Our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of clients in negotiations and at trial, giving us substantial insight into “what works” and what — quite simply — does not work from a strategic perspective.

We are committed to the provision of individualized legal representation, and we pride ourselves on our close and collaborative engagements with clients.  This approach ensures that our clients are apprised of all relevant case developments, and that we have all the necessary information for putting forth a strong, well-supported claim.

Call (703) 888-1943 or submit an online form through our website to request an appointment with an experienced Alexandria business attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC.  We will evaluate your claims and help you determine next steps for securing compensation.