Law of Equity.

Essay by DebsterA-, April 2003

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The law of equity encompasses a body of rules, principles and doctrines initially developed by the Court of Chancery, broadly aimed to address the conflicts identified with uniform rules of justice that were inflexible and often harsh on particular individuals in specific situations and standards of fairness and conscience. It is discretionary and not based on precedent so this jurisdiction has continually changed and developed by judicial decision of the substantive principles of law and since its conception .

Relief against forfeiture is but one of the substantive doctrines of equity that has evolved.


Relief against forfeiture, in general terms is the equitable jurisdiction to 'prevent one man from forfeiting what in fair dealing belongs to someone else, by taking advantage of a breach from which he is not commensurately and irreparably damaged..." . Historically, this jurisdiction was limited to relief against the terms of penal bonds but now applies commonly to proprietary interests and has been extended to possessory interests .

Circumstances in which relief against forfeiture of an interest in property may arise is in the context of contracts for the sale or lease of land. Relief of forfeiture of personal interests to which one party is entitled may arise where a right of occupancy exists under a license agreement.


The maxims of equity are significant central principles that underlay all equitable remedies, but it is the unconscionable conduct of a person that has evolved to determine equities jurisdiction to relieve against forfeiture.

A contract/agreement may provide that on termination, the promisee may keep or forfeit money paid under the contract or the goods or interest in land of the promisor. Equity has an ancient jurisdiction to relieve against forfeiture on such grounds as fraud, accident or mistake. The normal equitable remedies...