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maxims of equity

Short pithy statements used to denote general principles that are supposed to run through *equity. Although often inaccurate and subject to exceptions, they are commonly used to justify particular decisions and express some of the basic principles that have guided the development of equity. The main maxims are as follows:

equity acts *in personam;

equity acts on the conscience;

equity will not suffer a wrong without a remedy (i.e. equity will not allow a person whom it considers as having a good claim to be denied the right to sue);

equity follows the law (i.e. equity follows the rules of common law unless there is a good reason to the contrary);

equity looks at the intent not at the form (i.e. equity looks to the reality of what was intended rather than the way in which it is expressed);

where the equities are equal, the earlier in time prevails (i.e. where rights are equal in worth or value, the earlier right created takes precedence over the later);

he who seeks equity must do equity;

he who comes to equity must come with *clean hands (see *equitable remedies);

*equality is equity;

equity looks on that as done which ought to be done (see *conversion);

equity imputes an intent to fulfil an obligation (see *satisfaction);

equity will not assist a volunteer (see *voluntary settlement).

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