In the State of Arizona, a party can seek specific performance as a remedy for a breach of contract. Specific performance is a judicial remedy that requires a party to perform a specific act, such as fulfilling an obligation under a contract, rather than awarding monetary damages. This remedy is often sought in cases where a unique item or property is at stake, and monetary damages would not be an adequate remedy.
Legal Requirements for Specific Performance
There are five requirements for a party seeking specific performance:
“(1) there must be a contract; (2) the terms of that contract must be certain and fair; (3) the party seeking specific performance must not have acted inequitably; (4) specific enforcement must not inflict hardship on the other party or public that outweighs the anticipated benefit to the party seeking specific performance; and (5) there must be no adequate remedy at law. However, specific performance will not be granted if the parties have not agreed on one or more of the important, essential or material terms of the contract, nor may the contract leave any material or essential term for future negotiation.” Power P.E.O., Inc. v. Employees Ins. Of Wausau, 201 Ariz. 559, 563 (App. 2002)(internal citations omitted). Interpretation of a contract is a question of law. Id.
Types of Contracts for Specific Performance
In Arizona, specific performance is commonly sought in real estate transactions, particularly when the property is unique, and monetary damages are insufficient for compensation. A unique property does not have a comparable substitute, such as a historic building or a specific piece of land with unique features, (e.g., natural resources on the land, a specific view, or a particular neighborhood). One of the most common specific performance action our firm sees is when a buyer comes to us because the seller has tried to get out of a purchase contract because they found someone willing to pay a higher price.
Other types of contracts where specific performance may be appropriate include contracts for the sale of artwork or other unique items.
In the State of Arizona, specific performance is an available remedy for a party seeking to enforce a contractual obligation. While it is an extraordinary remedy, it may be appropriate in cases involving unique items or properties, where monetary damages would not be an adequate remedy. To obtain specific performance, a plaintiff must show that the contract is valid and enforceable, that the defendant has breached the contract, and that specific performance is necessary to prevent an irreparable harm. Courts will consider whether the required act is possible, practical, and equitable before granting specific performance.
It is important to note that specific performance is not always the best remedy for a breach of contract. The remedy may be costly and time-consuming, and there is no guarantee that the court will grant this relief. In some cases, it may be more practical to seek monetary damages or other forms of relief. This is why it is always advisable to consult with a seasoned attorney who has the experience and can determine the nuance of an individual case.