Equity is about fairness, but does not require exact equality. All things being equal could very well not be fair or equitable. 22 maxims of Equity are below and while some are archaic or narrow in their application, many are relevant and applicable in today’s society and legal arenas.
1. One who seeks equity must do equity. This requires that if you are seeking relief of the Court you must have done all that was required of you by the Court Order.
2. Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy. This provides that the Court may grant relief even if there is not necessarily a clear remedy at law.
3. Equity regards as done what ought to be done. This holds that if you agree to do something then it is assumed you will have done it and done it well.
4. Equity is a sort of equality. Equity means fair, but does not = equality, hence “a sort of equality.” Think equal in opportunity, though there may not be equal outcomes.
5. Equity aids the vigilant, and not those who slumber on their rights. Equity requires you to act reasonably and diligently. You cannot wait an unreasonably long time to seek justice.
6. Equity imputes an intent to fulfill an obligation. An act consistent with a promise to act demonstrates an obligation and may well satisfy same.
7. Equity acts in personam. Equity is about the obligations of people, not objects.
8. Equity abhors a forfeiture. Fairness does not require a total loss even if you did not meet all obligations on time.
9. Equity does not require an idle gesture. Fairness does not require the Court to declare a hollow victory.
10. He who comes into equity must come with clean hands. Similar to #1, this requires that if you are seeking relief of the Court you must enter Court having not committed a violation.
11. Equity delights to do justice, and not by halves. If you are entitled to full restitution, then equity requires that you receive full restitution.
12. Equity will take jurisdiction to avoid a multiplicity of suits. Equity requires that all parties and all issues which could have been decided be decided and you are later prevented from seeking relief for the same issues.
13. Equity follows the law. An equitable result does not violate the law.
14. Equity will not assist a volunteer. This one needs explanation about a “volunteer.” In this instance it is not a do-gooder, instead it is one who received a benefit though they did not deserve it. Fairness does not require the “volunteer” be entitled to such benefit.
15. Equity will not complete an imperfect gift. A person that confers a benefit on a third party may not be relied upon if the first person did not have the right to do so in the first place.
16. Where equities are equal, the law will prevail. If both parties are equal in benefit/wrongdoing, equity does not apply.
17. Between equal equities the first in order of time shall prevail. If two persons have an equitable claim/right the person that had the claim/right first, wins.
18. Equity will not allow a statute to be used as a cloak for fraud. Fairness will not allow the presence or absence of a particular law be used for an unjust result.
19. Equity will not allow a trust to fail for want of a trustee. Merely because a Trustee is unable or unwilling to serve does not terminate a Trust.
20. Equity regards the beneficiary as the true owner. Again related to Trusts, while the Trustee may have the property or use there of, the beneficiary is the person entitled to the use or benefit thereof.
21. Equity will not allow a wrongdoer to profit by a wrong. Fairness does not provide the bad actor to win due to his bad actions.
22. Equity does not punish. Fairness restores one to where they should have been, it does not punish the wrongdoer.