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Maxims of equity

The maxims of equity evolved, in Latin and eventually translated into English, as the principles applied by courts of equity in deciding cases before them.

Among the traditional maxims are:

  • Equity looks upon that as done which ought to have been done.
  • Equity suffers not a right without a remedy.
  • Equality is equity.
  • Equity regards substance rather than form.
  • Where the equities are equal, the first in time will prevail.
  • Where equities are equal, the law will prevail.
  • Equity follows the law.
  • He who seeks equity must do equity.
  • He who seeks equity must have clean hands.
  • Equity aids the vigilant, not those who sleep on their rights.
  • Delay defeats equity.
  • Equity will not concern itself with abstract wrongs.
  • Equity abhors a forfeiture.
  • Equity does not require an idle gesture.
  • Equity will not permit a party to profit by his own wrong.
  • Equity delights to do justice, and not by halves.
  • Equity will take jurisdiction to avoid a multiplicity of suits.

In modern times, law students have summed up the meaning of the maxims as:

  • Equity taketh no shit.



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