(C) Of the discretion of the Court.
Discretion as to decreeing specific performance
22. The jurisdiction to decree specific performance is discretionary, and the Court is not bound to grant such relief merely because it is lawful to do so; but the discretion of the Court is not arbitrary but sound and reasonable, guided by judicial principles and capable of correction by a Court of appeal.
The following are cases in which the Court may properly exercise a discretion not to decree specific performance:-
I. Where the circumstances under which the contract is made are such as to give the plaintiff an unfair advantage over the defendant, though there may be no fraud or misrepresen-tation on the plaintiff's part.
(a) A, a tenant for life of certain property, assigns his interest therein to B. C contracts to buy, and B contracts to sell, that interest. Before the contract is completed, A receives a mortal injury from the effects of which he dies the day after the contract is executed. If B and C were equally ignorant or equally aware of the fact, B is entitled to specific performance of the contract. If B knew the fact, and C did not, specific performance of the contract should be refused to B.
(b) A contracts to sell to B the interest of C in certain stock-in-trade. It is stipulated that the sale shall stand good, even though it should turn out that C's is interest is worth nothing. In fact, the value of C's interest depends on the result of certain partnership-accounts, on which he is heavily in debt to his partners. This indebted is known to A, but not to B. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to A.
(c) A contracts to sell, and B contracts to buy, certain land. To protect the land from floods, it is necessary for its owner to maintain an expensive embankment. B does not know of this circumstance, and A conceals it from him. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to A.
(d) A's property is put up to auction. B requests C, A's attorney, to bid for him. C does this inadvertently and in good faith. The persons present, seeing the vendor's attorney bidding, think that he is a mere puffer and cease to compete. The lot is knocked down to B at a low price. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to B.
II. Where the performance of the contract would involve some hardship on the defendant which he did not foresee, whereas its non-performance would involve no such hardship on the plaintiff.
(e) A is entitled to some land under his father's will on condition that if he sells it within twenty-five years, half the purchase-money shall go to B. A, forgetting the condition, contracts, before the expiration of the twenty-five years, to sell the land to C. Here the enforcement of the contract would operate so harshly on A, that the Court will not compel its specific performance in favour of C.
(f) A and B, trustees, join their beneficiary, C, in a contract to sell the trust-estate to D, and personally agree to exonerate the estate from heavy encumbrances to which it is subject. The purchase-money is not nearly enough to discharge those encumbrances, though, at the date of the contract, the vendors believed it to be sufficient. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to D.
(g) A, the owner of an estate, contracts to sell it to B, and stipulates that he, A, shall not be obliged to define its boundary. The estate really comprises a valuable property, not known to either to be part of it. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to B unless he waives his claim to the unknown property.
(h) A contracts with B to sell him certain land, and to make a road to it from a certain railway-station. It is found afterwards that A cannot make the road without exposing himself to litigation. Specific performance of the part of the contract relating to the road should be refused to B, even though it may be held that he is entitled to specific performance of the rest with compensation for loss of the road.
(i) A, a lessee of mines, contracts with B, his lessor, that at any time during the continuance of the lease B may give notice of his desire to take the machinery and plant used in and about the mines, and that he shall have the articles specified in his notice delivered to him at a valuation on the expiry of the lease. Such a contract might be most injurious to the leasee's business, and specific performance of it should be refused to B.
(j) A contracts to buy certain land from B. The contract is silent as to access to the land. No right of way to it can be shown to exist. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to B.
(k) A contracts with B to buy from B's manufactory and not elsewhere all the goods of a certain class used by A in his trade. The Court cannot compel B to supply the goods, but if he does not supply them, A may be ruined, unless he is allowed to buy them elsewhere. Specific performance of the contract should be refused to B.
The following is a case in which the Court may properly exercise a discretion to decree specific performance: –
III. Where the plaintiff has done substantial acts or suffered losses in consequence of a contract capable of specific performance.
A sells land to a railway-company, who contract to execute certain works for his convenience. The company takes the land and used it for their railway. Specific performance of the contract to execute the works should be decreed in favour of A.