Equitable remedies in contractual disputes
Produced in partnership with Zainab Hodgson of CMS

The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with Zainab Hodgson of CMS provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Equitable remedies in contractual disputes
  • Specific performance
  • When might you seek specific performance of a contract?
  • Defence to a claim for specific performance of a contract
  • Sale of Goods Act 1979 and specific performance
  • Claiming for damages in the alternative to specific performance
  • Declaratory relief
  • Injunctive relief for breach of contract
  • Rectification
  • Rescission

Equitable remedies in contractual disputes

While the primary remedy for contractual breach is that of damages (see Practice Note: Contractual damages—general principles and related content), there are occasions in contractual disputes (particularly those where the contract has not, or perhaps not as yet, been breached) where damages may not be available or the most appropriate remedy. In such instances there are a number of equitable remedies which the court has a discretion to order. These include:

  1. specific performance of outstanding obligations under the contract

  2. declaratory relief, for example, as to the meaning of a particular provision in a contract

  3. injunctive relief (whether interim or final) either compelling a party in breach/about to breach the contract to do or abstain from doing something

  4. rectification of a contract or deed

  5. rescission of a contract or deed

Where damages for breach of contract are sought they are usually sought and, where awarded, awarded on the basis of the accepted compensatory aim of contractual damages, ie to put the innocent party in the position as if the contract had not been breached and the defaulting party had performed their obligations. However, there are instances where the breach is such that the innocent party may seek equitable damages in addition to or in lieu of the equitable remedies of specific performance and injunctive relief (see Practice Note: The remedy of damages—general

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