Will That Be Performance - Or Cash: Semelhago v. Paramadevan and the Notion of Equivalence


  • Donald H. Clark




This article discusses the manner in which the Supreme Court of Canada assessed damages in Semelhago v. Paramadevan, a dispute arising from a breach of contract for sale of land. The author analyzes the decision as it affects established real estate law and principles governing judicial remedies available in contracts. Before Semelhago, specific performance was normally granted as all land was presumed to have no substitute and therefore, damages were considered to be inadequate. As a result of the decision in Semelhago, the plaintiff, whether vendor or purchaser, is now required to adduce evidence that the specific property in question is unique. The plaintiff retains the right to request specific examine performance or damages and can make her election any time up until the date of the trial. The author discusses when the value of the property should be assessed and the deductions that should be included in the final judgment. He also outlines the confusion and uncertainty this judgment has created and how the plaintiff is overcompensated by using thisformula. A solution to this dilemma is presented.