Chancellor

The ‘equitable title’ or ‘equitable interest’ in property is that ownership which equity will grant on the basis of ‘fairness and good conscience’.  Students will remember that originally a party would only be able to obtain a common law remedy from the King’s judges by means of the writ procedure.  This involved the plaintiff being able to fix his claim within the limits of one of the prepared writs.  If there were no writ covering the problem, then there would be no claim.  An additional problem was that the King’s judges were only empowered to grant a remedy as set down by the King i.e. a money award, called ‘damages’. The Lord Chancellor was eventually empowered to listen to all claims which were not within the ambit of the common law and a special court (The Chancery Court) was set up to administer the Lord Chancellor’s decision.  The Lord Chancellor was able to administer relief on the grounds of ‘fairness’ i.e. wherever it was unconscionable to allow a party to be defeated by the strict common law principles.  Thus, the Law of Equity (the Latin term is aequitas, for levelling out) developed.  Equitable relief is entirely at the court’s discretion and will only be applied where the court is convinced: That it is fair and just to do so after a consideration of both parties’ circumstances and. That any common law relief is inadequate. Thus, at times, equity will hold that although one person is the owner of the legal title of property, i.e. is the owner ‘at law’, another person should be accorded ownership rights over that property.  This is normally done by means of the ‘constructive trust‘ i.e. where the court will say that the person who holds the legal title holds part/all of that property as if on trust for the equitable owner.