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How specific performance can resolve contract disputes

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | Business Litigation |

Sometimes contract disputes are fairly straightforward. One party fails to make a payment or doesn’t complete work on a project by a specific deadline. The other party to the contract may want to impose certain penalties, especially if they negotiated clauses imposing specific financial consequences for non-compliance.

Yet, even when the issue itself is relatively simple, the situation could quickly become complex. The party in violation of the contract might agree to cover those costs or might dig in their heels and fight. When one party refuses to remedy a contract breach that has had negative implications for the other party to the agreement, the situation can quickly spiral out of control.

Emotions can become very intense, and negotiations might break down. The party trying to mitigate the consequences of a contract breach might take the other party to court. Requesting an order of specific performance from a judge could be a way to resolve contract violations.

What is specific performance?

Civil court judges have the authority to invalidate or enforce written agreements. One of the many ways in which a judge can uphold a contract is by ordering specific performance. An order of specific performance is effectively a court order requiring certain work from someone embroiled in a lawsuit.

An order of specific performance requires that one party complete certain work or tasks. An order of specific performance might mandate the completion of a project after a contractor left a job unfinished. Other times, if poor work, cheap materials or other contract breaches caused secondary issues, a judge’s order of specific performance could go beyond the requirements established in the initial contract.

How orders of specific performance help

Obviously, an order of specific performance can be beneficial because it leads to the fulfillment of contractual obligations. It can also help to remedy any secondary issues generated by the non-compliance of one party.

Additionally, an order of specific performance has the backing of the courts’ authority. If someone already in breach of a contract refuses to fulfill the requirements established in an order of specific performance, a judge could declare them in contempt of court. There could be numerous other consequences for their continued failure to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Particularly in situations involving unfinished projects or sloppy work, an order of specific performance could potentially be the best solution for the plaintiff in a breach of contract lawsuit. With that said, learning about the ways the courts can resolve breach of contract issues more broadly may benefit those frustrated by the non-compliance of another party. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.