A Court Can Order a Contractor to Finish the Job Instead of Giving Money Damages

HNWContract Law

  • Judge's hammer and helmetMoney damages are generally given in a breach of contract case.
  • Sometimes a court will order a contractor to finish a job instead of entering a judgment for money damages.

Recently a court in NJ addressed the novel issue of specific performance in a breach of contract case.  The court acknowledged that, as a “general rule,” a court of equity will not order specific performance of a building and construction contract.  That rule has its origin in the principal that courts do not favor awarding relief that would entail extensive future court supervision.  Thus, where damages are inadequate or inefficient and the court’s supervisory responsibility is not great, specific performance may be appropriate.

There is a legal treatise known as Williston on Contracts. The author of this treatise states that a judicial tendency has been to increasingly grant specific performance of construction contracts “where the inadequacy of damages is great, and the difficulties of supervision not extreme.”

In this case, the court found that compelling the contractor to repair the inadequately-finished areas would be far more efficient than awarding damages equal to the cost of third-party repairs.  While the court did not minimize the expertise required to pave a driveway properly, the court determined that specific performance, in this case (as opposed to, for example, a whole building-construction project), would not require extensive court supervision.

If you are looking for additional details on this topic or if you require advice about your situation, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Contract Law Attorney

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