nIn its formative period, the common law was
characterized by considerable
flexibility. By the 14th century, the common law had become highly technical and rigid. Moreover,
litigation was expensive.
nAggrieved parties who were unable to secure a remedy at common law would appeal to the King directly for
justice. The King often
delegated such matters to his Chancellor, a cleric and a member of the King’s court who was often referred
to as the “keeper of the
King’s conscience.” Eventually this practice
of referring disputes to the Chancellor evolved into a secular tribunal called the Court of Chancery, which developed its own jurisprudence called equity.
nThe term “equity” comes from the Latin aequitas,
which means justice or
equality. The idea of equity as a supplement to law can be traced to the Roman Law and ultimately to Aristotle. The idea is that when existing legal rules
and procedures are
insufficient to remedy injustice, a court should rely on general principles of fairness in granting