Definition of EQUITY


EQUITY

In the early history of the law, the sense affixed to this word
was exceedingly vague and uncertain. This was owing, in part, to the fact,
that the chancellors of those days were either statesmen or ecclesiastics,
perhaps not very scrupulous in the exercise of power. It was then asserted
that equity was bounded by no certain limits or rules, and that it was
alone controlled by conscience and natural justice. 3 Bl. Com. 43-3, 440,
441.

2. In a moral sense, that is called equity which is founded, ex oequo et
bono, in natural justice, in honesty, and in right. In an enlarged. legal
view, "equity, in its true and genuine meaning, is the soul and spirit of
the law, positive law is construed, and rational law is made by it. In
this, equity is made synonymous with justice, in that, to the true and
sound interpretation of the rule." 3 Bl. Com. 429. This equity is justly
said to be a supplement to the laws, but it must be directed by science.
The Roman law will furnish him with sure guides, and safe rules. In that
code will be found, fully developed, the first principles and the most
important consequences of natural right. "From the moment when principles
of decision came to be acted upon in chancery," says Mr. Justice Story,
"the Roman law furnished abundant materials to erect a superstructure, at
once solid, convenient and lofty, adapted to human wants, and enriched by
the aid of human wisdom, experience and learning." Com. on Eq. Jur. 23
Digest, 54.

3. But equity has a more restrained and qualified meaning. The remedies
for the redress of wrongs, and for the enforcement of rights, are
distinguished into two classes, first, those which are administered in
courts of common law, and, secondly, those which are administered in courts
of equity. Rights which are recognized and protected, and wrongs which are
redressed by the former courts, are called legal rights and legal injuries.
Rights which are recognized and protected, and wrongs which are redressed
by the latter courts only, are called equitable rights and equitable
injuries The former are said to be rights and wrongs at common law, and the
remedies, therefore, are remedies at common law, the latter are said to be
rights and wrongs in equity, and the remedies, therefore, are remedies in
equity. Equity jurisprudence may, therefore, properly be said to be that
portion of remedial justice which is exclusively administered by a court of
equity, as contradistinguished from that remedial justice, which is
exclusively administered by a court of law. Story, Eq. 25. Vide Chancery,
and the authiorities there cited, and 3 Chit. Bl. Com. 425 n. 1. Danes Ab
. h. t., Ayl. Pand. 37, Fonbl. Eq. b. 1, c. 1, Wooddes. Lect. 114 Bouv.
Inst. Index, h. t.


Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

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