1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Specific Performance
SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE, an equitable doctrine under which a court of equity, in certain exceptional cases where the normal legal remedy, i.e. damages, would not be a sufficient compensation, orders from a defaulting party a specific or actual performance of the thing which he had contracted to do. The courts act on their own discretion in affording or refusing the relief of specific performance, and as a general rule will refuse that relief where the common law remedy is adequate, where the court would be unable to superintend or enforce the execution of its judgment, where the plaintiff has himself acted inequitably, or where the enforcement of specific performance would be unreasonable. Specific performance is usually confined to executory agreements, such as a conveyance or a lease of land; it is not usually enforced in the cases of personal acts or in those of contracts for personal service. In the case of a contract for the sale of a chattel the courts will only order specific performance when the chattel is of peculiar value to the purchaser and cannot be obtained elsewhere. The courts are guided considerably by precedent, and it is only by reference to a standard textbook that details can be obtained of the conditions and restrictions which hedge the jurisdiction of the courts. In Scots law specific performance, or "implement," is part of the ordinary jurisdiction of the courts.
See Fry on Specific Performance; Ency. English Law, tit. "Specific Performance"; and Story, Equity Jurisprudence.