Review of the Meaning of "Enforce"

Prof. Bell

I. Fundamental Assumptions About Enforcing Contacts

  1. Relief v. Punishment: Courts primarily aim to relieve the party suffering the breach--not at punishing the breaching party.

  2. Expectation Damages: Courts generally aim at relieving the party that suffered breach by giving it the benefit of the bargain.

  3. Remedies usually aim at substituting monetary damages for the breach, rather than at ordering specific performance by the breaching party.

II. Types of Remedies

  1. Mnemonic for the four main types of relief: A headline that blares, "Defendant ERRS! Remedy Granted!"
    1. Expectation: Puts the injured party in the position it would have been in had the contract been performed. See Restatement (2nd) Contracts § 347
    2. Reliance: Reimburses the injured party for damages suffered due to the breach, such as expenditures made in anticipation of performance. See Restatement (2nd) Contracts § 349.
    3. Restitution: Aims at restoring to the injured party benefits bestowed on the breaching party. See Restatement (2nd) Contracts § 371.
    4. Specific performance: Generally allowed only if the contract concerns unique property, such that damages are neither recoverable nor adequate. Generally barred if enforcement would overburden the court or if personal services are at issue.

  2. Punitive damages: Courts award them only very rarely for breach of contract and then only if the breach gives rise to a tort such as "bad faith breach." See Restatement (2nd) Contracts § 355.

  3. Declaratory judgments declare the legal relations between the parties without awarding damages or other relief, and can be rendered even though no breach has occurred.

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Review of the Meaning of "Enforce" - - v. 10/99