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What kind of remedy is ‘specific performance’ in contract law?

| Feb 17, 2020 | Business Law |

Despite the old saying, promises are not meant to be broken — especially when those promises are part of a contract. But what can you do when someone breaks a contract with your company?

If the breach is serious, or material, you have legal options. Depending on the situation (and the contract), you may be able to cancel the deal — which, at least, ends any obligation on your part. You may also ask a court to order the other party to compensate you for your losses or even penalize them monetarily. But what if you really want the other party to come through on the deal, and you don’t think that mere money will actually compensate you?

That’s where specific performance comes in. There are occasions where the only way the innocent party (you) can be fairly treated and “made whole” again is by obliging the other party (the person who broke the contract) to fulfill the obligation on which they agreed. In other words, money alone wouldn’t be enough to balance the scales.

For example, imagine that you own a movie studio, and you get a famous actor to agree to be in your film. You sign a contract. A month later, the actor wants to back out so that they can do a different film. Since the actor is, arguably, a unique asset who brings something to the film that cannot be replicated, you might sue for specific performance and ask the court to order the actor to be in your film.

Business disputes can often be resolved with negotiation and compromises. When they can’t, however, and you’re pushed into litigation, it’s smart to have an experienced attorney by your side.

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