The right to specific performance is not absolute, but is a matter of discretion with the chancellor. While this is true, the discretion is a sound judicial discretion, controlled by established principles of equity, and where the contract is in writing, is certain in its terms, is for a valuable consideration, is fair and just in all its provisions, and is capable of being enforced without hardship to either party, it is as much a matter of course for a court of equity to decree its specific performance as for a court of law to award a judgment of damages for its breach.
Purchasers sought specific performance for a contract for the sale of land against the sellers. The chancellor's award of specific performance in favor of the purchasers. The Court, however, denied specific performance and limited the purchasers to monetary damages instead. The sellers sought a rehearing.
Was specific performance a remedy for purchasers of land who increased its value with their improvements?
The remedy of specific performance in giving the complaining party exactly what he bargained for ordinarily afforded complete and perfect relief and, therefore, was usually awarded as a matter of course. The court found no valid reason for the denial of specific performance in this case. In fact, the equities strongly demanded specific performance be afforded. The purchasers expended money and labor in improving the property, and the improved land was worth more than the contract price. To deny specific performance and to award instead an amount of damages far below the purchasers' expenditures in improving the property would have resulted in the sellers being unjustly enriched. To refuse specific relief on account of the proposed resale would establish an unsound precedent and diminish the transferability of property. The decree had to be modified to require the purchasers to pay interest upon the purchase price and to require the sellers to pay interest upon each monthly installment of rent from its accrual.