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Specific Performance: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is Specific Performance ?

Specific performance is a legal concept that applies to contracts. It's a special rule that courts use to force someone to do what they promised in a contract. This rule is usually used when money damages are not enough to fix the problem. Imagine you and your friend promise to trade your favorite video games. But then your friend changes his mind and doesn't give you his game. Even if he gives you money instead, you might still want the game because it's unique and you can't buy it anywhere else. In this case, a court might order 'specific performance' and tell your friend he has to give you the game like he promised. But this rule is not used very often because courts don't like forcing people to do things. It's also hard to watch and make sure the person does exactly what they promised.

It's most commonly used by the courts in Real Estate Transactions, related to Sale of Goods with Unique Value, Long term supply contracts or Service Agreements involving unique skills like an artist or an athlete.


  • Scenario Description
    Imagine a company, Company A, contracts with another company, Company B, to create a very special software for them. Company A cannot find anyone else who can make this software, and it's very important to their business. But then, Company B decides they don't want to make the software anymore. In this example, Company A might ask a court for 'specific performance'. They would be asking the court to force Company B to do what they promised in the contract and make the software. This is because money damages might not be enough for Company A. Even if Company B pays them money, Company A still might not be able to get the software they need from anyone else.
    Company X contracts with a famous artist to design a unique logo. The artist then decides not to create the logo. In this case, the company may seek specific performance. This means that the court would force the artist to create the logo as promised in the contract. This is because the logo is unique and cannot be created by anyone else, so money damages would not be enough.

Related terms