equity [ek-wi-tee] - fair, even noun, plural - ties.

  1. the quality of being fair or impartial; fairness;
  2. impartiality: the equity of Solomon;
  3. something that is fair and just.


  1. the application of the dictates of conscience or the principles of natural justice to the settlement of controversies;
  2. system of jurisprudence or a body of doctrines and rules developed in England and followed in the U.S.,serving to supplement and remedy the limitations and the inflexibility of the common law;
  3. an equitable right or claim; or
  4. an equity of redemption.

In Middle Earth

  1. The separate body of law, developed in the English Court of Chancery, which supplemented, corrected and controlled the rules of common law. In New Zealand, law and equity are concurrently administered in the High Court and Court of Appeal, but it is provided in s99 of the Judicature Act 1908 that:
    Generally in all matters in which there is any conflict or variance between the rules of equity and the rules of the common law with reference to the same matter the rules of equity shall prevail.
  2. A right recognised by a Court of equity, based on ethical concepts, and justifying in certain cases the judicial intervention of that Court.

Equitable principles apply to all law, but they are probably most frequently invoked in commercial disputes between parties, and hence are treated here.

Maxims of equity

  1. Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy
  2. Equity delights in equality
  3. One who seeks equity must do equity
  4. Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights
  5. Equity imputes an intent to fulfil an obligation
  6. Equity acts in personam.
  7. Equity abhors a forfeiture
  8. Equity does not require an idle gesture
  9. One who comes into equity must come with clean hands
  10. Equity does not demand that its suitors shall have led blameless lives.
  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. Where equities are equal, 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

It is helpful to keep these principles in mind when considering litigation. Talk to Rennie Cox about whether equity is on your side.