What is specific performance?

Specific performance is a remedy sought in civil court, instead of money. It requires a defendant to actually go through with a certain action he promised to do, instead of just paying money for not keeping his promise. Specific performance is referred to under the law as an "equitable" remedy. 

Understanding Specific Performance

In the vast majority of civil suits, the plaintiff is seeking cash, known as monetary damages. For example, if someone breaches a contract, the person who suffered the breach usually sues to try to recoup the money he lost because the defendant didn't keep his part of the bargain. However, while money works in most lawsuit cases, sometimes money is not adequate. When money isn't adequate to compensate a plaintiff for his loss, then the plaintiff may seek specific performance. When a court grants specific performance, the defendant has to do whatever it was he promised to do.

This is used when the plaintiff demonstrates that money is not actually going to make him "whole" from the breach. For example, if a plaintiff had a contract to buy a one-of-a-kind necklace and the defendant breached, then the court ordering the defendant to pay back the plaintiff's money may not do the plaintiff a lot of good. He or she will have the cash, but won't be able to find another one-of-a-kind item to buy with it. The plaintiff in that case could ask the court to make the defendant sell him the necklace. The defendant would, of course, keep the plaintiff's money and be required to follow through and complete the sale as promised. 

Getting Help

Specific performance is often used in contracts for the sale of land, but can apply in other circumstances as well. If you believe that this remedy may be the best and fairest remedy for your situation, you should consult with a lawyer to explore your options for suing for specific performance.