The Comparative Distinctiveness of Equity
Justice Mark Leeming
Comparative law is difficult and controversial. One reason for the difficulty is the complexity of legal systems and the need for more than a merely superficial knowledge of the foreign legal system in order to profit from recourse to it. One way in which it is controversial is that it has been suggested that the use of comparative law conceals the reasons for decisions reached on other grounds. This paper maintains that equity is distinctive, and that one of the ways in which equity is different from other bodies of law is that there is greater scope for the development of equitable principle by reference to foreign jurisdictions. That difference is a product of equity’s distinctive history, underlying themes and approach to law-making. Those matters are illustrated by a series of recent examples drawn from appellate courts throughout the Commonwealth.