Construction Contract Seeking Specific Performance?
Orange County Construction Dispute Attorney Offers Options
When one party breaches a contract, a court will generally order monetary damages to cover the non-breaching party’s losses. However, there is another remedy available for breach of contract. Typically, this remedy is available in building, real estate and construction contracts, known as specific performance. Specific performance is a court order directing the breaching party to fulfill its obligations under the contract.
At Orange County Civil Law Associates, our lawyers frequently represent contractors, sub-contractors and property owners in legal disputes and construction arbitration. Depending on the situation, a party in a construction contract may seek specific performance or might wish to fight against such a request from the other party. When we review the construction contract and the facts, we can offer an assessment of whether the case may qualify for specific performance and help you determine what path is best to achieve your goals.
What is Specific Performance in a Construction Dispute?
A court or arbitrator will not order specific performance of a construction contract in every situation. It is known as an extraordinary equitable remedy. If one party opposes specific performance, then a judge will order it only if the judge determines all the following is true:
- The construction contract is valid and enforceable;
- One party breached the contract;
- Monetary damages would be inadequate to compensate the non-breaching party;
- It is possible to enforce the order of specific performance; and
- No equitable defenses apply to the situation.
For example, there may be a unique building project. The contractor started work; however, he/she wants to breach the contract and terminate work before completion. In that situation, the court might order specific performance. The property owner might allege specific performance is necessary because no other builder could fulfill the plans as agreed. However, if a court declined to order the contractor to complete the work, the property owner would then be entitled to monetary damages to hire a new builder to finish the project.
Are There Defenses to Specific Performance?
If a party to the contract does not want a court to order specific performance, then there are equitable defenses the party may raise. These include:
- Laches. A lache occurs when the party seeking specific performance sat on its rights for so long that it would be inequitable for the other party to fulfill the obligations of the contract due to the unreasonable delay.
- Mutual Mistake. If there is a mutual mistake of the parties, it would be inequitable to enforce this provision against a party.
- Unclean Hands. When the non-breaching party did something unlawful or otherwise against the spirit of the law or contract, it would be inequitable to force the other side to comply.
Free Consultation with an Orange County Construction Dispute Attorney for Specific Performance
If you are in a construction suit, or if you have been served a construction lawsuit or request for arbitration, then schedule an appointment with our business, real estate and construction attorneys. We will explore all the options available to you to best achieve your goals.