Law is to be seen as definite and also flexible and fair. It specifically needs unambiguous rules on one hand but flexibility on the other to provide exceptions to cases that may lead to apparently unjust conclusions where rules are applied rigidly. Common law, as define by Wikipedia, refers to law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals, rather than through legislative statutes or executive action.
Equity on the other hand, as defined by Aristotle is a better sort of justice, which corrects legal justice where the latter errs through being expressed in a universal form and not taking account of particular cases. In my understanding, common law is a body of rules created by judges by writing opinions based on cases that are not already addressed by statutes where as equity is in essence principles, doctrines and rules advanced initially by the Court of Chancery in positive competition with those of the Common Law Courts.
This competition began when litigants became dissatisfied with the remedy laid down by Common Law Courts. In these instances litigants preferred to petition the King for him to mediate in cases. This was dealt with by the King’s Chancellor who determined each case according to his own discretion. Over the years, these decisions became known as rules of equity. Equity began to appear as an apparent set of principles rather than a personal jurisdiction of the Chancellor.
The most important distinction between common law and principles of equity is the set of remedies each offers. The most common remedy a Court of Law can award is money damages. Equity, however, enters injunctions for decrees directing someone either to act or to forbear from acting. Often this form of relief is in practical terms more valuable to the litigant. An additional distinction is the unavailability of a jury in equity. Equitable remedies can only be passed down by a judge as it is a matter of law and not subject to the intervention of the jury as trier of fact. The availability of a jury, however, largely depends on the type of remedy the plaintiff requests. If the litigant request damages in the form of money or a specific item of property, the remedy is considered legal and a jury must be available as a fact finder.
On the contrary, if the litigant requests an injunction, specific performance or modification of contract the claim would easily be one in equity. Yet another important distinction between the rules of common law and principles of equity is the source of rules governing the decisions. In common law decisions are made by reference to legal doctrines or statutes. Equity, in contrast, with its emphasis on fairness and flexibility, has only general guides known as maxims of equity. In summary, common law and principles of equity have distinct differences. Because of its strict harsh rules, the common law is less likely to be preferred as the principles of equity are flexible, fair and just.
Overruling- to set aside or decide against by virtue of higher authority; rule against or rule out; annul or reverse In law, to distinguish a case means to compare the facts of the case before the court from the facts of a case of precedent where there is an apparent similarity. By successfully distinguishing a case, the holding or legal reasoning of the earlier case will either not apply or will be limited. Whether a case is successfully distinguished often looks to whether the distinguished facts are material to the matter.
reversal – a judgment by a higher court that the judgment of a lower court was incorrect and should be set aside
In law, a lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in which a party (plaintiff) has claimed to have received damages from a defendant’s actions, the plaintiff, seeks a legal or equitable remedy. The defendants are required to respond to the complaint of the plaintiff. …
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