Aequitas Nunquam Contravenit Legem – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning

Equity never contravenes the law.

Explanation

Aequitas Nunquam Contravenit Legem states that equity cannot contradict the law. The concept if equity comes into play only when some important factor is overlooked by the law. Aequitas Nunquam Contravenit Legem is based on the principle of promoting the fair process of judgement in accordance with law. The judicial remedies are always made to provide more flexible responses to changing social conditions. There is a difference between equity and equality. Equity is having equality amongst unequals. However this equity should always be given under the preview of law. If the law is clear, no notions of equity can substitute the law and equity cannot be allowed to over-ride the law. In other words, equity cannot override the express provisions of the statutes. Therefore, where statute provides for doing a thing in a particular manner and in a particular time it has to be done accordingly and not otherwise. Any amount of sympathy or compensation would not obliterate the effect of the express provision of law merely for the reason that it would be too harsh to follow and that the equity is on the other side. The object of this maxim is to supplement the law, and not to contravene it.

Origin

Equitable jurisdiction is embedded in the justice system and in the common law which encourages to take actions in a reasonable and fair manner.  The aim is to have just outcome. Equity can be legally defined as set of remedies which are distinguished from legal remedies. The courts grants equitable relief where the legal relief is found to be insufficient or does not renders justice. Thus the maxim Aequitas Nunquam Contravenit Legem is used and a remedy is created which does not only serves justice but is also not contravening the law

Illustration

Interlocutory Injunction is granted prior to a court hearing because plaintiff has suffered an un-repairable damage. The right that has been breached cannot be compensated by money. In this case the plaintiff has to provide the court with prove that there is sufficient reason to believe that the damage caused to them is irreparable. In such a case Interlocutory Injunction is granted by the court to the plaintiff and is a form of equitable remedy.

Case Reference

In the case of Eastern Coalfields Ltd. v. Bajrangi Rabidas[1] it was held that equitable jurisdiction is a system of justice designed to supplant the common law by taking action in a reasonable and fair manner which results in a just outcome. Equitable relief is granted by Courts where the legal relief is found insufficient or inadequate. They are judicial remedies to provide more flexible responses to changing social conditions. Equity mitigates the rigour of the common law and looks to substance rather than to form.

Also in the case of Ashita Nilesh Patel and another v Deputy Secretary and others[2] the issue was regarding the maintainability of the petition under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Act, 1999. It was observed that because the equity follows the law. Therefore, if the law is clear, no notions of equity can substitute the law and therefore petitioners cannot be denied the relief when on the face of the order impugned in the petitions, it is de hors the provisions of Section 4 of the act and the Rules framed there under only on the grounds of equity.

In Ram Ji v Vijay Krishna and others[3] it was observed that the settled principle is that equity follows the law. Therefore, even if at times it may appear that the law is harsh but it has to be applied and cannot be ignored on equitable consideration as equity cannot be allowed to over-ride the law.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference

[1] Eastern Coalfields Ltd. v. Bajrangi Rabidas, (2014) 13 SCC 681 

[2] Ashita Nilesh Patel and another v. Deputy Secretary and others, 2017 Indlaw GUJ 119

[3] Ram Ji v. Vijay Krishna and others, 2015 (3) ADJ 416

 

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I am Kousini Gupta, final year BBA.LLB. student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. The topics in Constitutional, Intellectual Property, Entertainment and Media Law excite me in particular and bring out the best in me. I have interned at District Court, High Court and several reputed law firms. The experience of these internships was highly valuable and enriching. My research and publications have been accepted in reputed national journals. Besides, I also enjoy mooting and have several participation certificates to my credit. In my free time, I like to be creative with paintings and dance to my favourite tunes.