When disagreements about contracts go to court, the judge hearing the matter has several tools at their disposal that can help resolve the matter. In some cases, the party affected by a default or contract breach will want damages. Other times, they simply want to eliminate their future obligations to the other party due to the non-performance of the other party.
However, there are scenarios in which the enforcement of a contract may seem like the best option. Especially when the contract involves the delivery of goods at a set price or skilled services never rendered, enforcing the contract to obtain the materials or work originally negotiated for may seem like the best solution to the party that didn’t default.
Although judges do have the authority to enforce contracts via orders of specific performance, such orders are not always the best solution to a contract dispute. Therefore, those who are attempting to litigate a contract issue need to consider their options carefully before deciding the best solution for their unique case.
The limitations of specific performance
Upon cursory inspection, specific performance may seem like an ideal solution. A judge can effectively order one party that is currently in breach of a contract to follow through with promises made to the other party. If they fail to do so, they are then in contempt of court rather than just in violation of a contract.
The possibility of additional penalties could be enough to inspire compliance in some cases. Still, there are limits to specific performance that people often forget or overlook. No one can compel another party to do a job to the best of their ability. Therefore, mediocre workmanship could be the product of a project completed only due to an order of specific performance.
An obligation to follow through with a contract could also result in additional resentment and may cause further damage to the relationship between the two parties, possibly preventing them from ever working together again. Those pursuing a breach of contract claim need to carefully consider the different options for resolving the matter to determine which solutions are most viable in their circumstances.
With all of that said, seeking an order of specific performance can be a workable solution for contract defaults in certain circumstances, and those pursuing a lawsuit related to contract issues should not dismiss the idea without discussing their situation with their lawyer first.