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Equity was used to refer to the laws that were followed in the English judicial system which supplemented the strict rules that were used on top of the already existing common laws to pass judgments. The conflicts between law and equity can be traced back to the time when England was ruled by kings. At the start of the 14th century, the courts of law in England could only pass sentences to certain cases and disregarded others that according to the system ‘were not suitable’. On top of this, law officials changed the court procedures of listening to claims.
Since the legal claims were based on set restrictions, it made the judicial process unfair to the individuals who were denied justice. Remedies however, could be got when petitions were drafted for the king to consider with the hope that he would have mercy on them. The Court of Chancery The Court of Chancery was one court in England and Wales that followed the Equity system. It was formed under the Lord Chancellors jurisdiction who administered cases on behalf of the King; therefore, he served as the judge.
During this period, the rules of equity had become more acceptable in solving cases and that is why they were incorporated in the Court of Chancery. In these courts, decisions were made following stare decisis and since they were based on equity, they did not rely on the law doctrines. These courts however, were not trusted with most people to pass correct rulings because of its inconsistency. The courts concentrated on what the defendants had done and what they were supposed to do so as to be right with the law other than what the plaintiff might have wanted.
Therefore it was upon the courts to pass the decision that would make the defendant put matters right. Equity therefore, lightened the strict laws. The jurisdiction of the courts of equity is different from law courts because the methods used to distinguish from what is right and what is wrong are differentiated into two such that what is used in the Courts of Law are legal and were enforced using the common laws while those in the Equity based courts were equitable.
The Courts of Equity are based on mercy and justice therefore have helped the poor people to fight for their rights especially in certain suits where they are unable to file suits such that a counsel will be assigned to them by the courts and they can get certain favors such as they are exempted from paying ordinary fees. Differences in Common Law and Equity The difference between the common law and equity ranges from the way they deal with solutions and alternatives used in solving legal matters. In Equity, there is no jury as it is the duty of the judge to decide if a person is guilty or not guilty.
Another distinction between law and equity is that there are differences in the rules are used to pass decisions. In law, decisions made will be based upon the documented legal guidelines while in equity, general guidelines are followed that will ensure that the sentence passed is fair and just. Equity therefore has no fixed rules as sentences can be passed by using doctrines that were used in prior similar cases. But as time progressed, the equity laws changed rapidly to become more rigid hence becoming a system that was used in the English courts.