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Equitable Remedies

Although the standard relief for breach of contract is monetary damages, they may be inappropriate in certain situations, such as where the amount of damages is too speculative, or the contract was for unique goods. In such cases, courts will grant primarily two forms of equitable relief: injunctions and specific performance. Originally, there were two court systems, law and equity. Today, the distinction has been abolished and all courts can grant either form of remedy. A primary consideration in granting equitable relief is the issue of justice and fairness (treated in more detail in Chapter 11).

A. Specific Performance (Rest. 2d. § 359; UCC § 2-716)

Instead of giving monetary damages, a court can force the breaching party to perform as promised in the contract. Specific performance is usually granted where a contract involves a unique good, such as land. Before granting this remedy a court will consider several issues:

1. Indefiniteness (Rest. 2d. § 362)
The agreement between the parties must be sufficiently definite and certain to be specifically performed, all material terms included.

2. Extensive Supervision (Rest. 2d. § 366)
If specific performance of the agreement requires extensive supervision by the court to ensure that each party is fulfilling its duties properly, the court will avoid awarding this measure of damages. Judicial time is scarce enough without such additional burdens. Building contracts generally involve much supervision.

3. Adequacy of Alternative
Remedies (Rest. 2d. § 360) Specific performance is an attractive remedy if other remedies do not appear adequate. Relevant considerations include:

a. The difficulty of proving monetary damages,

b. The availability of satisfactory substitute goods, and

c. The likelihood the plaintiff will be able to collect a monetary judgment from the defendant.

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