Equity – law and idea
Equity – law and idea

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Equity – law and idea


By taking seriously a pluralist or heterogeneous interpretation of ‘equity’, you have seen how it emerges as both law and idea, and more importantly that there is a tension between the two. This free coures, Equity – law and idea, followed a research-based analysis that comprised two contrasting albeit interrelated arguments relating to equity as law and idea, you were invited to consider the tension inherent to definitions of equity and given a counterpoint to the mainstream view of equity that some may hopefully have found provocative.

The first argument maintained that equity ought not to be thought of only as a body of rules and doctrines, but as an idea of equity that represents and seeks to apply ‘an ethic for imagining better law and better life’ (Watt, 2012, p. 1). A key role envisaged for this type of ‘equity’ was as a juridical mode of thought and as being capable of challenging and holding to account, among other things, ‘negative’, immoral or unethical aspects of modern capitalist society, notably opportunism. The second argument maintained that, as a body of law with long associations with property, equity can be considered ideally suited to the needs and desires of capitalism, and via mechanisms such as the trust can help facilitate or promote opportunism. No explicit conclusions or rather solutions are offered to this analysis. The importance of the material is in the analysis as such, and more precisely in unveiling and questioning both the inherent tension within equity and the associations between equity and capitalism that in turn offer an explanation for that tension.

You should now be able to:

  • describe some basic features of the law of equity
  • critically evaluate and describe tensions between legal and philosophical accounts of equity
  • critically situate equity as both law and idea in contemporary socio-political and economic contexts.

If you are unsure about any of these, go back and reread the relevant section(s) of this free course, Equity – law and idea.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course W302 Equity, trusts and land [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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