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The courts of law in medieval times enforced the law of the king. The range of claims that these courts agreed to hear gradually became more restricted and painfully technical, and many deserving plaintiffs were denied a hearing. A plaintiff's alternative was to send a petition directly to the king, asking for mercy and conscience to decide the matter. The king regularly delegated these petitions to his chancellor who was the king's clergy and confessor. Soon the Chancery, the king's secretarial department, began to resemble a judicial body and became known as the "Court of the Chancery."
By the 15th century, the judicial power of the "Chancery" was recognized. Equity as a body of rules varied from Chancellor to Chancellor until the end of the 16th century. After the end of the 17th century only lawyers were appointed to the Chancery.
Equity acts as a system of decrees forcing an individual to act or forbidding an individual from acting by issuing injunctions or decrees. However in modern times a court will be reluctant to this if another solution namely monetary compensation is available. Thus the most common solution found in court system today is for a litigant to request damages in the form of monetary payment. This is the basic distinction between using equity determinations to administer the law and the law system as it exists today. Another distinction is that in the system of equity the judge is the "trier of fact"2 and a jury is not available. Here the forefathers of the United States took exception to equity courts: they wrote the VII amendment to the Constitution to ensure all citizens have the right to a jury in civil cases. A final distinction between equity and law is the source of rules of rules on which decisions are based. In law, common law is established by judges using previous decisions and precedents. Statutory law is determined by the legislature and a statute it makes by this governing body for a judge or enforcement agency to mandate and satisfy the will of the legislators. In contrast, equity, which concentrates on fairness and flexibility, has only general guides known as the maxims of equity.A chart showing these traditional maxims has been inserted here:
Among the traditional maxims are:
1 Equity regards as done that which ought to be done.
2 Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy
3 Equity delights in equality
4 One who seeks equity must do equity
5 Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights
6 Equity imputes an intent to fulfill an obligation
7 Equity acts in personam.
8 Equity abhors a forfeiture
9 Equity does not require an idle gesture
10 One who comes into equity must come with clean hands
11 Equity delights to do justice and not by halves
12 Equity will take jurisdiction to avoid a multiplicity of suits
13 Equity follows the law
14 Equity will not aid a volunteer
15 Between equal equities the law will prevail
16 Between equal equities the first in order of time shall prevail
17 Equity will not complete an imperfect gift
18 Equity will not allow a statute to be used as a cloak for fraud
19 Equity will not allow a trust to fail for want of a trustee
Richard Edwards, Nigel Stockwell (2005). Trusts and Equity
The historic objection to equity was that it had no fixed rules of origin. From time to time a Lord Chancellor would decide a ...Show more


This paper will review the legal terms Equity and Common law, their historical development in the courts of England and the United States and how they are relevant to judicial proceedings in modern times.
What is Equity Equity is an English system of justice developed during the 17th and 19th centuries separate and distinct from common law…
Author : jocelynkreiger
Equity and Common Law College Essay
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