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Equitable Remedies: What They Are And What They Can Do

Equitable Remedies: What They Are and What They Can Do

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Equitable remedies are available in civil litigation involving contract disputes. When someone breaches a contract, the injured party can seek legal action against them. Instead of pursuing a monetary award, they can request the court to order the defendant to provide an equitable remedy.

Breach of contract cases are complex. You shouldn’t attempt to pursue any type of equitable remedy without hiring an experienced civil litigation lawyer.

Understanding Breach of Contract

A contract is a legal agreement two or more parties sign when entering various relationships. The contract contains each party’s obligations, rights, and other aspects of the transaction or business relationship. The terms of the agreement can outline what each person must do to fulfill their part of the contract, such as providing a service or making payments on a predetermined schedule.

According to Virginia Code § 59.1-507.1, a party breaches a contract if, without legal excuse they:

  • Repudiate a contract;
  • Fail to perform an obligation in a timely manner;
  • Exceed a contractual use term; or
  • Otherwise fail to comply with a commitment in the agreement.

Anyone who suffers losses from a breach of contract can file a lawsuit for an equitable remedy.

Types of Equitable Remedies in Civil Litigation

A remedy in a civil case can be legal or equitable.

A legal remedy is a monetary award. When someone suffers a financial loss, they can file a lawsuit to recover compensation.

An equitable remedy doesn’t involve a financial award. The judge might order an equitable remedy if it believes a legal remedy won’t provide adequate relief to the non-breaching party.

The three types of equitable remedies available in a breach of contract case are explained below.

Specific Performance

The court could choose to issue a specific performance order at its discretion instead of a legal remedy that requires a payment of financial compensation. An order for specific performance requires the breaching party to provide an obligation as promised.

However, this type of equitable remedy is only available for a breach of contract involving the sale of a unique item. The unique item can be personal property or a parcel of real estate. If the item is something the non-breaching party can purchase elsewhere, it is not a unique item, and a monetary award could provide relief.

The court cannot order specific performance to force someone to perform services against their will.

Injunction

An injunction is an equitable remedy that directs a person to refrain from doing something they’re not supposed to do. A promise someone makes not to do something is called a negative covenant.

The court uses injunctions to stop the defendant from a course of action that can cause irreparable harm and possible injustice to the plaintiff.

Anyone who violates a court-ordered injunction could be held in contempt of court and face criminal or civil penalties.

Restitution

Restitution is another type of equitable remedy the court could order under a range of circumstances, including:

  • The parties did not meet the terms of the contract due to misrepresentation or incapacity
  • Scenarios where one party breaches the agreement
  • Cases where the party seeking restitution breaches the contract

The point of restitution isn’t to punish the breaching party and unjustly enrich the non-breaching party. An order of restitution would only require the defendant to restore what they obtained from the plaintiff. 

Contact Us

Taylor, Taylor & Taylor, Inc. has over 25 years of experience fighting for the rights of clients in Glen Allen, VA. When you face a complicated breach of contract case, having a dedicated and knowledgeable legal team working for you is critical. We can provide the representation you need to hold the other party accountable for their wrongdoing.

If someone breached a contract and you want to seek an equitable remedy, call us at 804-266-9619 today for a confidential consultation with one of our Virginia civil litigation lawyers.

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