Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018: KEY CHANGES

The Specific Relief Act, 1963 has recently been overhauled by way of the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018(“Amendment Act”. The Amendment Act has been published in the official gazette on 1st August 2018. The below table is a ready reckoner of the comparitive modifications brought about by the Amendment Act.

Category heading The Specific Relief Act, 1963 before Amendment The Modification made by the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018 wef 01.08.2018
Nature of Specific Performance Damages were the rule and Specific Performance the exception Changes the approach – Specific Performance is now the rule and damages are the exception.
Nature of Discretion of the Court Specific Performance was a discretionary relief. Specific Performance has become a mandatory relief[1].
Damages as a bench-mark for relief Contracts could be specifically enforced only if there existed no standard for ascertaining the actual damage caused by non-performance, or if compensation for non-performance would not be an adequate relief. No such provision is present in the Amended Act[2].
Expert Appointment No such provision Section 14A has been introduced enabling court to appoint expert whenever required.
Recognition of LLPs under the Act Earlier, the entity resultant from LLPs amalgamated with with other LLPs were not recognized under the Act. Now these entities have a right to seek specific performance owing to inclusion of Sub-section (fa) in Section 15, and the remedy of specific performance can be enforced against such entities by virtue of inclusion of Sub-section (ca) in Section 19.

 

Averment of Readiness and Willingness Failure of Plaintiff to plead that he was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract could lead to rejection of the Plaint[3]. Failure to plead is no longer fatal. Proof of readiness and willingness to perform the contract, without specific pleading is also sufficient[4].

 

Grounds in Section 20 In the un-amended Section 20, Specific Performance could be refused if the Plaintiff had an unfair advantage in the contract, performance of the contract would involve some hardship on the Defendant, enforcement of the contract would make it inequitable for the Defendant etc. These grounds have been entirely scrapped as the old Section 20 has been substituted.
Substituted Performance No such relief in the un-amended Act. Section 20 has been amended to include substituted performance. This enables Plaintiff to get the breached contract performed through a third party with a thirty day notice to the Defendant. The Plaintiff can ask for compensation of this substituted performance from the Defendant but becomes ineligible to claim Specific Performance of the original contract.
Infrastructure Projects Court had discretion of granting injunctions in even infrastructure projects Court is barred from granting injunctions in infrastructure projects defined under the Act[5] if it causes delay or impediment in its completion[6].

Special Courts to be set up to try suits under the Act in regard to infrastructure contracts[7].

 

Time Limit No Time Limit for disposing off cases Time Limit of Twelve Months extendable by Six Months provided for disposing off cases under the Act[8].

 

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[1]Sections 10 and 11 of the un-amended Act read that the Court may enforce contract in its discretion, but now the language has been changed to “shall”.

[2]Damages have been removed as a bench-mark of non-performance by making the appropriate modifications in Section 10, Section 14 and Section 16 of the Act.

[3]Section 16(c) of the un-amended Act.

[4]The word “aver” has been deleted from Section 16 by way of the Amendment Act.

[5]Section 20A read with Schedule of the Amended Act.

[6]Section 20A read with Section 41(ha) of the Amended Act.

[7]Section 20B of the Amended Act.

[8]Section 20C of the Amended Act.

Updates

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