The concept of “Specific Performance” in the car trade

I dealt with an unusual court application recently – one which I never thought I would need to when I joined Lawgistics. 

The area of dispute is summarised as follows. Our client has ongoing discussions with a potential customer about the possibility of selling them a car once certain works have been done to it. Eventually, our client opts to cease e-mail exchanges and no longer wishes to consider selling it. The would-be customer is now suing our client for alleged breach of contract and it is our client’s case that there was never a contract in existence in the first place.

Court papers have been received not asking for compensation in the form of money (damages) to be paid but – rather – requesting that the Court orders that our client sells them that car. This is what is known as an order of Specific Performance.

The reason why it is so unexpected is that orders of Specific Performance are only available when monetary compensation for breach of contract is not a sufficient remedy. For example, if I find a Penny Black stamp down the back of my sofa and agree to sell it to a museum for 10 million pounds which I later renege on, an Order from the Court telling me that I must sell it would be appropriate.

However for a run of the mill vehicle costing about £7000 it seems quite bizarre to ask the court for this type of remedy. Surely, the proper way would be to claim for the “loss of bargain” – the difference in value between that car and obtaining an equivalent car elsewhere. We will keep you up-dated.


Authors: Jason Williams

Published: 29 Mar 2016


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(cAse SeNSItivE!)

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