Under the present law of Alberta, specific performance of a contract for the sale and purchase of land will not be granted to the purchaser under the contract unless the land is unique in the sense that no substitute is readily available. In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada, in Semelhago v Paramadevan, said that it is no longer the case that every piece of real estate is unique and that it therefore cannot be assumed that damages for breach of a contract for the purchase and sale of real estate will be an inadequate remedy in all cases. The principal opinion advanced in this report is that the availability of specific performance should not be determined by a rule adopted for purely historical reasons without examination of the basis for the rule. The report concludes that specific performance is fairer as between the vendor and the purchaser; that it is more efficient in the sense that it avoids litigation for the assessment of damages; and that it is more effective than damages because it puts the purchaser in the precise position he or she would have been in if the contract had been performed, and because damages is not an effective remedy at all if the vendor is judgment-proof due to insolvency. This conclusion leads to the further conclusion that specific performance should generally be available to a purchaser under a contract for the sale and purchase of land. A second opinion advanced in the report is that a contract for sale and purchase of land should generally confer on the purchaser an interest in the land, which the consequent right to file a caveat against the certificate of title to the land where a certificate of title exists.
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