Equitable Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Equitable, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Equitable?

adj. 1) just, based on fairness and not legal technicalities. 2) refers to positive remedies (orders to do something, not money damages) employed by the courts to solve disputes or give relief.

History and Meaning of Equitable

The term "equitable" comes from the Latin word "aequitas," which means "fairness." In law, the term refers to principles of justice and fairness that go beyond the strict application of legal rules. Equitable remedies are based on fairness and not just technical legal principles, and are used to solve disputes or provide relief that legal remedies cannot provide.

Equitable doctrines developed in England during the Middle Ages, when legal remedies were often inadequate to remedy certain injustices. These doctrines were used to provide relief and prevent injustice in situations where the law provided no remedy. In particular, equitable principles were used to prevent unjust enrichment or to enforce the rights of individuals who had been wronged.

Examples of Equitable

  1. A court might use equitable principles to require a company to stop using a patent that infringes on a competitor's intellectual property rights, rather than awarding money damages.
  2. A judge may use equitable considerations to order a landlord to make necessary repairs to a tenant's apartment or to prevent an eviction.
  3. A court might use equitable relief to freeze the assets of a debtor to prevent them from dissipating their assets and avoiding creditors' claims.

Legal Terms Similar to Equitable

  1. Fairness: A term used to describe the principles of justice, impartiality, and equity that underlie the law.
  2. Injunction: A court order requiring a person or company to stop doing something, or to take specific actions to prevent harm to others.
  3. Restitution: A remedy that requires a wrongdoer to restore to the victim the money or property that was wrongfully taken or damaged.