Equity and Today

Updated on March 4, 2017


Equity was actually created and developed to cover the gaps of common law.

It all started from the Norman conquest 1066. William the Conqueror realized that control of the country would be easiest by first conquering the legal system and therefore set up Curia Regis - The King's Court. He appointed his own judges and nobles would settle their disputes here. Alongside with this effort, judges were sent to major towns to solve disputes of the general public by following the local customs. Over a period of time, it is believed that the judges gathered on their return to Westminister in London to discuss the laws they used and to synchronize them and thus the common law is created.

However, common law has many loopholes as it was operated in writ system. The system requires citizens to first purchase a writ before getting a hearing. Any mistakes done in form-filling would most likely cause the claimant to lose the case as the law was too technical at that time—intentions are not taken into account. In addition, the common law only recognizes certain types of laws. The remedies given were only damages, and this might adequately bring justice to every case.

Therefore, citizens who felt unjust consulted the king and was referred to Lord Chancellor who was both a priest and a lawyer. Lord Chancellor looked beyond legal documents and used his natural sense of justice do what is right so as to bring justice to the people. This concept is termed equity—fairness.

Equity and Today

Equitable Remedies

Equity introduced a few remedies which the common law could not provide. They are injunction, specific performance, rescission, and rectification.

Injunction is an order from the court to an individual or party involved in the case to do or not to do something. If the order is requiring the party involved to perform something, it is called a mandatory injunction. If the order is refraining the party from doing something, it is termed as a prohibitory injunction.

Related case: Kennaway v Thompson (1980)

Specific performance requires the party involved to complete the contract agreed upon. This is only done when the court feels that remedy of damages could not adequately compensate the loss of the other party.

Related case: Beswick v Beswick (1967)

Rescission is another remedy in contract cases which returns both parties as far as possible to conditions before the contract was made.

Rectification is given to correct the mistakes made on the contract which was against the intentions on both parties.

Equitable Maxims

They are like law proverbs. For example, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. This requires both parties involved to be of good intentions and equitable remedies will not be granted to a claimant who has not acted fairly. To illustrate, in the case of D & C Builders Ltd v Rees (1965), Mrs. Rees took advantage
of the company's financial situation. She claimed the work was not done properly and therefore the company reluctantly agreed not to charge her the full payment. However, the company afterward sued the Rees for the remaining amount of money. As the Rees has taken advantage of the Builders Ltd, they had not come with clean hands. Consequently, although this case was against the promissory estoppel, the company won the case.

Other maxims include:

  • Delay defeats equity
  • Equity looks to the intention and not the form
  • Delay defeats equity
  • Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy

Equitable Doctrines

These are rights where the law initially could not cover. An example of this doctrine is equitable estoppel. It prevents a party to take advantage over the other party when there are misrepresentations.

Other equitable doctrines include:

  • Equitable distribution
  • Equitable adoption
  • Equitable conversion
  • Equitable servitude

Equitable Principles

These are principles drew out through the core elements of equity - fairness. The most famous equitable principle would be the neighborhood principle which was created in the case of Donoghue v Stephenson (1932). It states that, in this case, the manufacturer owes an ultimate duty of care to the consumers as they will be drinking the ginger beers.

Other principles include principles of mortgages and trusts.


As discussed above, equity has contributed to the efficient development of the law by laying down vital rights, doctrines, and principles. Until today, such principles and concepts are still widely applied in most, if not all countries around the world. Therefore, the importance of equity towards the law, society, and country is definitely undeniable.

Question of the Day

What do you think is important to the development of law and the country?

Share—If you have the ideas, I am ready to hear.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Uju Megafu 

      3 years ago

      Thank you. I stumbled upon a true goldmine. You have made law students proud. All the way from Lagos, Nigeria we appreciate you!!

    • frozenink profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks, Tammy. And thanks for reading, really appreciate it.


    • tammyswallow profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      There will be some law students out there who are really going to love you for writing these great hubs that are not only easy to understand, but have solid examples behind them. Awesome!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)