Define Specific Performance in Contract Law

In contract law, specific performance refers to a legal remedy that compels a party to fulfill their contractual obligation by performing a specific act. This remedy is typically sought when monetary compensation is inadequate and the only way to obtain adequate relief is through the fulfillment of the promise made in the contract. In this article, we will explore the meaning of specific performance in contract law and discuss how it is used in legal cases.

What is Specific Performance in Contract Law?

Specific performance is a type of equitable remedy that may be awarded by a court if a party has breached a contract. It is a remedy that is unique to contract law, as it is designed to ensure that a party performs a specific act that was promised in the contract. Specific performance can be ordered in cases where monetary damages would not be sufficient to remedy the breach of contract. Essentially, the court orders the breaching party to perform a specific action, such as delivering goods or rendering services as outlined in the contract.

When is Specific Performance Appropriate?

Specific performance is typically ordered in cases where the subject matter of the contract is unique or where monetary damages would not be an adequate remedy. For example, if a piece of real estate is the subject of a contract, specific performance may be appropriate if the buyer breaches the agreement, as it may be difficult to find a similar piece of property. In cases where the contract is for the creation of a unique piece of art or a specific performance, specific performance may also be appropriate.

While specific performance is generally used in cases where monetary damages are not adequate, it is important to note that courts will first look to monetary damages before ordering specific performance. If monetary damages are available and sufficient, specific performance may not be ordered.

How is Specific Performance Enforced?

Once a court orders specific performance, the party who breached the contract is required to perform the specific act that was outlined in the agreement. If they fail to do so, they may be held in contempt of court and may be subject to additional fines or penalties. In some cases, the court may also appoint a third-party to ensure that the specific act is performed, such as a receiver or trustee.


Specific performance is a legal remedy that compels a party to fulfill their contractual obligation by performing a specific act. It is a unique remedy to contract law that is typically ordered when monetary damages would not be sufficient to remedy a breach of contract. While specific performance is not always appropriate, it can be a powerful tool for ensuring that contractual obligations are met. If you are entering into a contract, it is important to understand the potential consequences of breaching the agreement and the remedies that may be available if a breach does occur.