Can You Seek Specific Relief Against Your Tailor?

Imagine that your wedding is in a month. Excited, you visit your favourite suit store to select the fabric of your ‘Sherwani’. You choose one and the tailor takes your measurements. While you are leaving the cash counter, you are handed over a slip indicating the delivery date. They give you a date which is a week before your wedding day. You feel relieved that there’s plenty of time to fix any error after the first trial.

You visit the tailor shop on the given date and they tell you it’s still not ready. “Sir the Sherwani will be given to you in due time. You can rest assured that it’ll fit you perfectly!” said the shop owner. Brimming with confidence, he tells you to pick up your Sherwani on the morning of your wedding day! You go home still feeling sceptical whether they’ll be able to make it on time.

You spend the night before your special day sleepless, worrying over the Sherwani since you know its significance on that day. What if something goes wrong? You can’t just wear any dress you pick from your wardrobe. You visit the shop for the final time next morning to face your worst fear.

“Sir we are extremely sorry, last night one of our tailors left the iron on and a part of your Sherwani got badly burnt”, said that over confident shop owner. You couldn’t believe what you just heard. The ceremony is just few hours away. You start to think of a remedy but hardly find any. The Sherwani you paid for was accordingly measured. No other would fit you.

“But as you are our respected customer, a full refund is available” he said with a smile. But getting back your money won’t fix anything. Furious, you want to take this to the court.

In this scenario, you may seek specific performance of contract against the shop owner under Section 12 of The Specific Relief Act 1877. It is a form of specific relief, granted upon the discretion of the court by which a party to a contract is compelled to do what was previously agreed upon.

Specific relief is a form of legal redress which a plaintiff seeks through a civil court. A Specific Relief is legalese for performing a contract when monetary compensation for failing to complete contractual obligations is not enough.

According to s.12 of the Act, the court may enforce a specific performance when —

  1. The act agreed to be done is in the performance of a trust
  2. When there is no standard to ascertain the damage that has been caused for the non performance of the act
  3. When financial compensation won’t be enough to provide an adequate relief for the non performance of the agreed act
  4. When it is clear that compensation cannot he achieved from the non performance.

The condition is to suffer irreparable damage which is beyond any compensation. This prevents petty issues to be brought infront of the court.

However, if we try to fit in your situation in the above mentioned criteria, you may be entitled to get back your Sherwani just at the right time!

– the dress was agreed to be delivered on the morning. There was a trust present here since you relied on the shop owner’s assurance.
– Your wedding day is a special event in your life. You are not wear a burnt Sherwani in front of all those guests.
– Not even triple the price of the dress as compensation won’t be enough.

Therefore, a suit for specific performance would mean that contract would be treated like as if it was never obstructed. In your situation, the court may order the tailor to make a new Sherwani with the same fabric and deliver it to you in due time. And by the Court’s Order, your tailor would definitely be on his toes to give it to you at the right time.