Discuss the maxims of equity

The maxims of equity are what stop you from claiming the remedy you want. In common law there are no maxims stopping you whereas in equity there are. One example of a maxim is 'He who comes to equity must come with clean hands'. This means the claimant themselves must not be wrong in some sort of way otherwise they could not claim their remedy. One example of this is the case D&C Builders v Rees (1996). A small building firm did some work on Rees house.

The bill came up to i?? 732, Rees had already paid i?? 250 of it, When the builders asked for the rest, Rees said the work wasn't very good so instead would give i?? 300. The builders desperately needed the money so they accepted the money due to financial problems Rees also knew about. The decision to accept the money would not normally be binding in the law of contract and afterwards the builders sued Reeds for the rest of the money.

Rees claimed the court should apply the doctrine of equitable estoppel but Lord Denning refused to apply the doctrine because Rees took advantage of the builder's financial problems so therefore Rees had not come to equity with 'clean hands' Another maxim is 'Delay defeats equity' meaning when a claimant delays in taking a defendant to court, equitable remedies may not be available. One case that illustrates this maxim is the case of Leaf v International Galleries (1950). The claimant purchased a painting of Salisbury Cathedral described by the seller as a real painting.

Five years later the buyer found out it was fake and claimed the equitable remedy of recession but it was too late to claim it. Lastly another example of a maxim is 'He who seeks equity must do equity' meaning whoever wants be treated fairly should act fair to others. A case example of this is the case Chappell v Times Newspapers Ltd (1975), newspaper employees were threatened to get fired if they did not stop striking, the employees then applied for an injunction to prevent their employers from carrying out the threats.

The court said if they want the injunction they would have to stop striking. The strikers refused to stop striking so they were not granted their injunction. Discuss the modern developments in equity At the start of equity being introduced, it was flexible and was able to create the necessary rules if needed but by the middle of the 17th century the judges began to follow the decisions made by previous judges and by the end of the century, there was an attempt to reduce equity to a more fixed system.

They continued to fix the rules of equity and by 1948, the Court of Appeal of Appeal emphasising in the case of Re Diplock, that any claim in equity-" … must be shown to have an ancestry founded in history and in the practice and precedents of the courts administering equity jurisdiction. It is not sufficient that, we may think that the justice of the present case requires it, we should invent such a jurisdiction for the first time'.

Lord Denning was a well known judge of the 20th century gave a lecture called 'The Need for a New Equity' in which he said in the Judicature Acts, Equity has lost its power. He was worried that judges were not able to adapt the law to changing conditions. He had personally been responsible for developing the new equitable, principle of promissory estoppel in the High Trees Case. This introduced an element of fairness to contract law. Estoppel is a rule of law preventing someone going back on a promise not to enforce their rights under a contract.