Equitable relief is a non monetary remedy awarded by a court ordering a party to do something or refrain from doing something. Equitable relief includes mandamus, specific performance, or injunction. Equitable relief is granted when monetary damages cannot adequately redress the injury.
Specific performance requires a person to perform a specific act which is stated in a contract between the parties. Specific performance is granted only when monetary damages would be an inadequate remedy and the subject matter of the contract is unique. For example, an order of specific performance is granted to a buyer in a contract for the sale of land. However, specific performance is not granted in a contract for sale of goods, other than unique goods, because the party can buy or sell substantially identical goods elsewhere. Courts normally refuse to grant specific performance of personal service contracts.
Injunction is an equitable relief which requires a party to do or to refrain from doing certain acts. A party faces civil or criminal penalties for failure to comply with injunction. An injunction may be temporary or permanent. A preliminary injunction or interlocutory injunction is granted to restrain activity on a temporary basis before a final decision.
Rescission is another form of equitable relief which cancels a contract and brings the parties to the contract to their pre-contract position. Rescission is granted if fraud, mistake, duress, or failure of consideration is present. To rescind a contract, goods, property or money previously transferred is returned to restore the non breaching party to his or her pre-contract position. For example, A pays B in advance to do a job. B decides to move to another state. B rescinds the contract with A and returns the money paid in advance. Reformation is an equitable remedy which allows the contract to be rewritten to reflect the true intent to the parties. Reformation is usually granted in cases of fraud or mutual mistake.