Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1919

Abstract

ANYONE whom the study of equity has led into the by-paths of V Canon Law will recall that the Sext ends with a splendid array of imposing maxims, not improbably the source of the Latin maxims with which every lawyer is familiar. The inveterate habit formed by the ecclesiastics of expressing a legal principle in a short and crisp formula persisted when they came into the courts of law and is peculiarly in evidence among the chancellors of the fifteenth century. What may at first have been merely casual became through repetition a habit and the result has been to fasten upon equity a group of maxims which, though they have long outlived the usefulness of their short day, persist vigorously in textbooks and decisions. The difficulty with the maxim is not only that it expresses a result rather than a reason; almost without exception the maxims took shape in an environment utterly different from that of today. While equity has advanced the maxim tends to remain stationary; hence any exposition of equity through maxims involves the danger of obscuring its true development through envisaging modern equity under the limitations of its medimval beginnings. Of all the maxims, none has a more interesting history, none speaks more eloquently of the vortex of jealousy, antagonism and rivalry in which chancery first formulated its doctrines, than 'Equity acts in personom.'


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