Comparing Specific Performance Under The Specific Relief (Amendment) Act 2018 with the CISG and the UNIDROIT Principles: The Problems of the “Un-Common Law” in India

-Ajar Rab

The Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018 expressed a clear intent to the world that India was more serious than ever about the enforcement of contracts. It took the bold step of breaking its historical chains of the common law, and like civil law jurisdictions, made specific performance the norm, rather than the exception. While this was a much-needed step, a more in-depth analysis of the concept of specific performance and the amendment, when compared with other civil law jurisdictions, the Convention on the International Sale of Goods, and the UNIDROIT International Principles of Commercial Contracts, reveals a different picture. In a hasty effort to raise India’s rank on the ‘ease of doing business’, India has neither completely adopted the civil law approach, nor entirely relinquished its inheritance from the common law. This created the “Un-common Law”, which creates more problems than it resolves. The paper critically analyses the amendment in light of international instruments and practice across jurisdictions to highlight the steps in the right directions, the grey areas, and the drawbacks of the amendment. It concludes that a comprehensive re-look is required in order to align the regime on specific performance with international practice.