Response or Comment
The equitable principle of relief from penalties and forfeitures is so far elementary as almost to defy analysis. Many, perhaps most, of the judicial explanations of the principle have based it upon interpretation or construction, appealing to the doctrine that equity regards intent rather than form. Yet a logical application of this doctrine would lead to results very different from those which have actually been arrived at in the decisions. Thus, a stipulation in a mortgage that the mortgagor waives his equity of redemption can hardly be interpreted as meaning that he does not waive it, yet all such stipulations are ignored and redemption granted, nevertheless. Again, a penalty for breach of contract cannot be saved by the most solemn declaration that it is intended as liquidated damages. It must be conceded that many cases have actually been, decided on the interpretation theory, producing such enormities as Iowa Land Co. v. Mickel, 41 Ia. 402 (sale of land, $150 out of $600 paid, $4000 in improvements, second instalment of $150 one day late due to a misunderstanding; held forfeited), and Doctornan v. Schroeder, 114 Atl. 810 (N. J., 1921; sale of land, $1000 paid, last instalment of $1000 thirty minutes late; held forfeited). But such cases represent the minority view, and one applicable only to instalment sales, no court pursuing this course in mortgage or liquidated damage cases.
Durfee, Edgar N. "Basis of Relief from Penalties and Forfeitures." Mich. L. Rev. 20 (1922): 646-9.