Appling equitable maxims to trust cases.

Let us look at the following scenarios.

In each case, consider which legal maxims you think would apply. We will also provide an adequate rationale.

Scenario one.

Mark deceitfully transfers ownership of his house to his brother, Zack, with the intention of helping Zack gain entry into the country through immigration law. Later, Mark attempts to evict Zack by arguing that he is the rightful owner of the house, despite Zack’s legal claim to the property.

In the given scenario, Mark transfers his house to Zack fraudulently for immigration purposes. Mark now wants to evict Zack, claiming that he is the true owner of the property. Zack, on the other hand, asserts his legal ownership of the property. Let’s analyze the equitable maxims that could apply in this situation:

“Equity will not assist a volunteer”: This maxim may apply because Mark voluntarily transferred the house to Zack, even though it was done fraudulently. As a result, Mark may not be able to seek assistance from the court to reclaim the property.

“Equity will not aid a fraudulent or illegal transaction”: This maxim could also apply because Mark’s fraudulent intention in transferring the property may prevent him from seeking equitable relief. The court may not provide assistance to someone who engaged in fraudulent activity.

Considering these maxims, it is likely that both “Equity will not assist a volunteer” and “Equity will not aid a fraudulent or illegal transaction” would apply in this scenario. These maxims reflect the principles of fairness and justice, ensuring that individuals cannot benefit from their own wrongful actions.

Scenario two.

Hannah and George jointly purchase a house and contribute equal amounts towards its purchase. However, Hannah utilizes an inheritance to significantly enhance the property by constructing a substantial extension, thereby doubling its value. Hannah’s funds are also used to cover the expenses of rewiring the house and installing a new central heating system. After their separation, when the house is sold, George argues that the proceeds should be divided equally between them, but Hannah disagrees. It is important to note that Hannah and George are not married.

In this case, Hannah and George both purchased the house together in their joint names, indicating that they have equal legal ownership of the property. However, Hannah’s inheritance was used to significantly improve the property’s value by building an extension and installing new systems. This means that Hannah has made additional contributions to the property that have increased its overall worth.

While George may argue for an equal split of the proceeds from the sale of the house, Hannah may argue that her additional financial contributions should be taken into account. The maxim of “Equity follows the law” would support Hannah’s argument, as it recognizes and respects the legal ownership rights of both parties while also considering the additional contributions made by Hannah.

It is important to note that equitable decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and the application of equitable maxims can vary depending on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction.

Scenario three.

Rose emerged victorious in a crossword competition and was rewarded with a hot air balloon ride over the scenic Yorkshire Dales. However, the weather on the scheduled day was unfavourable, and the flight was cancelled. Rose insisted that the balloon company reschedule her ride for a different day.

In this scenario, the equitable maxim of “Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy” would likely apply. This maxim emphasizes that if someone has suffered harm or injustice, equity will provide a remedy to address the situation.

While the balloon company may argue that they cannot control the weather and therefore cannot provide an alternative day, the maxim of “Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy” would support Rose’s position. It recognizes that she has a legitimate expectation to enjoy the prize she won and seeks to address the injustice of being unable to do so due to circumstances beyond her control.

Scenario four.

Christian, as the beneficiary of the trust fund, was aware that one of the trustees had been “borrowing” money from the trust fund for the last 10 years. However, he chose not to take any action against the trustee during that time because he believed the sums were small and he could spare the money. This indicates that Christian had knowledge of the trustee’s actions and tacitly allowed the borrowing to continue.

Now, after a dispute with the trustee, Christian suddenly wants to take legal action to demand the return of the money to the trust fund. However, his previous knowledge and inaction in addressing the issue could be seen as a lack of clean hands. Christian’s delay in taking action and his previous acceptance of the trustee’s actions may weaken his claim for equitable relief.

On the other hand, although Christian was aware that one of the trustees has been borrowing money from the fund for the past 10 years but chose not to take action earlier the maxim “Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy” could apply here because equity may provide a remedy to rectify the trustee’s breach of duty and ensure the return of the borrowed money to the trust fund. Despite Christian’s previous inaction, equity may still intervene to address the wrongdoing and protect the interests of the beneficiaries.

In conclusion, the scenarios presented involve various equitable maxims that could apply to determine the rights and remedies of the parties involved.

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