Find the right lawyer now

Specific Performance Lawyers

Find a Local Business Lawyer near You

What Is Specific Performance?

Specific Performance is a court order stipulating that a party must fulfill their part of a contract.  This order comes about mainly when parties agree to a contract, and one party then refuses to complete or even start his part of the contract.   

When Do Courts Tend to Issue a Specific Performance Order?

Specific performance is commonly ordered when unique items are being exchanged such as real estate, antiques, heirlooms, or artwork.       

Specific performance is generally a legal tool that courts resort to only after exhausting all other legal possibilities first.  Most courts are generally reluctant to issue specific performance for the sale of personal property. Usually money damages equal to the value of the goods are awarded instead.  In addition, performance of services such as massages or house paintings are rarely ordered by the court because it is too difficult for the court to oversee the performance.

What Do I Need to Prove to Obtain Specific Performance?

The elements needed in order to obtain specific performance include:

  • A valid and enforceable contract
  • A breach of that contract
  • Legal damages must be inadequate (for example: if the parties contracted to produce a unique sculpture that only the breaching party could create, then the court will likely enforce specific performance instead of monetary damages)
  • Enforcement of the court's decree must be practical
  • No defenses apply

Are There Any Defenses?

Specific performance may be denied if any of the elements needed for specific performance are not met.  In addition, a breaching party may invoke a number of affirmative defenses against the issuance of specific performance.  These defenses include that the:

  • Contract Does Not Meet a Statute of Frauds Requirements: Some contracts are limited by duration and writing requirements
  • Contract is Limited by Laches: Some contracts are barred from being enforced because the party seeking to enforce the contract has been involved in neglect or unreasonable delay in asserting a suit.
  • Contract is Tainted by Unclean Hands: Courts of law will not help those who seek redress if they have participated in something immoral or unethical which is the subject of the dispute
  • Enforcement of the Contract Would Bring Undue Hardship: If the performance ordered would create undue hardship or burden on the defendant then it may not be ordered
  • Contract Involved Mistake or Innocent Misrepresentation: An unintentional error by the defendant in facts and/or the law when the two parties made the contract may allow the defendant not be ordered to specifically perform his contractual duty

Do I Need to Consult an Attorney?

Contract law can be quite complicated. Every state has different lawsuit filing procedures and deadlines for breach of contract claims. A business attorney can help a party conform to the applicable procedural rules and collect all the proper documents to prove a breach. Furthermore, an attorney can help you negotiate the terms of a contract before you make or accept an offer.
Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-25-2018 09:53 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.