Specific performance of property agreements

The following Property Disputes practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Specific performance of property agreements
  • When will specific performance be refused?
  • Effect of an order for specific performance
  • Failure to comply with an order for specific performance

Specific performance of property agreements

If a party to a property agreement fails to comply with its obligations, the other party may wish to apply for an order for specific performance. Specific performance is an equitable, discretionary remedy which, if granted, compels a party to perform a contractual obligation. This Practice Note explains when specific performance will or will not be ordered.

Specific performance is ordered at the court's discretion where damages do not afford a complete remedy, or where specific performance would do ‘more perfect and complete justice’.

Because of the unique nature of land, it is sometimes a preferred remedy for a buyer or tenant when a seller or landlord fails to complete. There is a general principle that a contract for the grant of an interest in land will normally be specifically enforced.

In a contract for the sale of land, specific performance may be granted in a claim started after the contractual completion date has passed, but before a notice to complete making time of the essence has been served.

In appropriate circumstances the court may award specific performance before the relevant contractual obligation has even been breached, on the basis that the equitable right to sue for specific performance requires that the claimant shows circumstances which justify intervention by a court of equity, rather than requiring that there be a cause of action

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