Equity follows the law

QUESTION: It is said that "equity follows the law." What do you understand by this phrase, and what are its basic implications?

ANSWER: This phrase means that courts, although exercising equity jurisdiction, are nevertheless bound by the Constitution and statutes. This affirms that our courts are primarily courts of law and, only in the absence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws, courts of equity.

According to the Supreme Court in Arsenal v. IAC, courts exercising equity jurisdiction are bound by rules of law and have no arbitrary discretion to disregard them. Equitable reasons will not control against any well-settled rule of law or public policy. Moreover, in Toyata Motor v. CA, it is said that equity is applied only in the absence of but never against statutory law.

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