A court may order specific performance of a negative promise by enjoining breach of it; and if a contract consisted wholly of negative stipulations complete specific performance could be granted in that way - more complete in fact than is ordinarily possible with affirmative promises; for while equity rarely grants an affirmative decree for the enforcement of a contract until it has been broken, it frequently grants an injunction to restrain a threatened breach.36 The fundamental basis for granting relief by injunction is the same as for granting affirmative relief; namely, the inadequacy of damages. If the breach of a negative stipulation cannot be adequately compensated in damages the general basis for relief is established. The enforcement by an injunction of a negative promise does not present the difficulties of procedure which limit the enforcement of affirmative. It is always possible for the defendant to refrain from doing anything, and it involves no straining of equitable powers to compel him to refrain. Indeed it has been Said that an injunction will always be granted to enforce a unilateral negative contract, or a negative promise which though forming part only of the contract originally made by the parties is all that remains unperformed; and similarly where a negative covenant though part only of an outstanding contract is independent of the rest.37 This may be doubted.38
33 Rosen v. Mayer, 224 Mass. 494, 495, 113 N. E. 217, citing Stewart v. Joyce, 201 Mass. 301, 87 N. E. 613,
34 Ibid., citing Brande v. Grace. 154 Mass. 210, 31 N. E. 633; Case v. Minot, 158 Mass. 577, 33 N. E. 700, 22 L. R. A. 536; Lexington Print Works v. Canton, 171 Mass. 414, 50 N. E. 931; DeMinico v. Craig, 207 Mass. 593, 94 N. E. 317, 42 L. R. A. (N.. S.) 1048; Went-worth v. Manhattan Market Co., 216 Mass. 374, 103 N. E. 1105. See also McCormick v. Oklahoma City, 203 Fed. 921, 122 C. C. A. 215.
35 Clark v. Roeario Ac. Co., 176 Fed. 180, 99 C. C. A. 534; Bromberg p. Eugenotto Constr. Co., 158 Ala. 323, 48 So. 60, 19 L. R. A. (N. S.)
1175; Farson v. Fogg, 205 111. 326, 68 N. E. 755; Eggert v. Pratt, 126 Iowa, 727, 102 N. W. 786; Van Keuren v. Siedler, 73 N. J. Eq. 239, 66 AtL 920; Knudston v. Robinson, 18 N. D. 12, 118 N. W. 1051; Kerlin v. Knipp, 207 Pa. St. 649, 57 AtL 34.
36 Star Chronicle Pub. Co. v. New York Evening Post, 256 Fed. 435, 167 C. C. A. 563; Jackson v. Stevenson, 156 Mass. 496, 31 N. E. 691, 32 Am. St. Rep. 476; Kearny v. Mayor, (N. J. Eq. 1919), 107 Atl. 169; Lattimer v. liver-more, 72 N. Y. 174; Dailey v. New York, 170 N. Y. App. D. 267, 156 N. Y. S. 124, affd. without opinion, 218 N. Y. 665, 113 N. E. 1053. See also 42 N. J. Law Jl. 102.
Courts have not infrequently said that a clear negative stipulation may be enforced by injunction, though damages might afford adequate relief.39 But the explanation of such remarks can only be that to some extent the cases where damages are regarded as inadequate have become absolutely classified, and any case which falls within a class where relief is habitually given will be enforced without reference to the particular needs of the plaintiff. Thus contracts regarding land are given a somewhat artificial importance, and inquiry is not made in case of such a contract whether damages would afford adequate relief. The true rule appears to be that an injunction will not be granted unless the court would, if it were possible to do so, grant specific performance of an affirmative agreement relating to the same matter.40 If this is shown, the right to an injunction is clear, not only where a negative covenant is the sole outstanding obligation of the contract, but where the defendant's negative obligation is independent.