Specific Performance as a Remedy for Breach of Contract

Specific Performance as a Remedy for Breach of Contract: What It Means and When to Use It

When entering into a contract, parties expect that each will fulfill their obligations under the agreement. However, sometimes one party fails to perform, or breaches, the contract. In these cases, the non-breaching party may seek a remedy to enforce the contract and recover damages. One such remedy is specific performance, which can be a powerful tool in certain situations.

What is Specific Performance?

Specific performance is a legal remedy that requires the breaching party to fulfill their obligations under the contract, rather than simply paying damages. In other words, the court orders the breaching party to do what they promised to do in the contract. This remedy is most commonly used in cases involving unique or rare items, such as real estate or works of art, where monetary damages may not adequately compensate the non-breaching party.

When is Specific Performance Appropriate?

Specific performance is not always an available or appropriate remedy. It is typically only granted in situations where money damages would not be sufficient to make the non-breaching party whole. For example, if a contract involves the sale of a one-of-a-kind painting, the buyer may seek specific performance rather than just receiving money damages. In this situation, the painting is unique and cannot be easily replaced, therefore, specific performance would be a more appropriate remedy.

Another situation where specific performance may be appropriate is in contracts for services that are personal or unique, such as a contract with a famous musician or athlete. In these situations, money damages may not adequately compensate the non-breaching party because they were anticipating a specific performance from the party that breached the contract.

However, specific performance is not always granted, even in situations where it may seem appropriate. The court may consider factors such as the availability of a substitute, the cost of performance, and the practicality of enforcing the order.

Benefits of Specific Performance

One of the primary benefits of specific performance is that it provides the non-breaching party with the exact remedy that they were anticipating when entering into the contract. It can also prevent the breaching party from benefiting from their breach by forcing them to fulfill their obligations. Additionally, it can provide a quicker resolution to a dispute than lengthy court battles over damages.


Specific performance can be a powerful tool in situations where a breach of contract involves unique or personal items or services. It is not always appropriate, but when it is, it can provide an exact remedy that money damages may not achieve. If you are faced with a breach of contract, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to determine the best remedy for your situation.