IEL 7: Equity/Billigkeitsrecht

Developments in civil law From 1066 on, the central system of law was the common law, so called because it was common to the whole country, not local. The term later took on other meanings too. When we talk about the history of the common law, we are usually thinking about civil law, which individuals are interested in developing, not criminal law, which is the prerogative of the state. The common law courts were centred in London and decided what was law. This common law became increasingly rigid. There were a restricted number of actions that individuals could take. If a person had a problem for which no action existed, then however unjust it seemed, there was no remedy. And if there was a remedy, it was only damages. The way in which this rigid system was alleviated was by people petitioning the Chancellor, the king’s right-hand man, for help. The Chancellor’s decisions gradually developed into a second, supplementary system of law known as equity. It was administered by the Court of Chancery. Until 1875, there were now two systems of law: the common law and equity. They had separate court systems, and it was eventually decided that where there was a conflict between the two, equity should prevail. For example, equity created the trust, and trusts remained in effect in English law. Equity originally means fairness, and it was so named because it was created to give a fairer treatment to those who suffered under the common law system. However, it was not always fairer than the common law. Equity was never a complete system, because it was developed to fill in gaps in the common law ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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