Equity Claims and Disputes

In some cases common law remedies are simply not sufficient and when that happens a plaintiff needs to consider whether a claim in equity can provide the appropriate relief. A plaintiff in such a scenario needs to keep in mind the importance of coming to the court with “clean hands” and making the application promptly lest the defendant raises “laches, acquiescence and delay” as a defence. Some of the examples of the relief that can be claimed in equity include: declarations as to rights, injunctive relief, specific performance, restitution, an account of profits and so on.

Proceedings in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court are usually commenced by way of a summons with an affidavit that supports the application. Where the matter has a degree of urgency it may be necessary to approach the duty judge and seek leave to file the originating application in court with orders about abridging the time for service.

Our Principal Solicitor at Litigant has advised, acted for and appeared in numerous disputes that involve claims in equity in the course of conducting commercial litigation over the last 10 years. As lawyers we can help you in appropriate cases seek orders for specific performance, to restrain/compel conduct, to obtain an account of profits to name a few and in doing so enable you to seek relief that goes beyond what the common law can provide.

Our Sydney based law firm is committed to handling your claim for equitable relief with competence and trust whilst all the while remaining accessible to you as our client. With more than 10 years’ worth of experience in equitable matters we should be able to answer most of your questions and help you vindicate your legal rights.

Sample Equity Claims and Disputes

  • An employee breaches an employment agreement by making a secret profit (account of profits / restitution)
  • A former tenant trespasses on the landlords property (injunction)
  • A vendor fails to complete a contract for the sale of land (specific performance)
  • A purchaser buys artwork under the mistaken impression the artist is "x" so induced by the gallery (rescission)

Important Quotes in Equity Disputes based on Restitution

Deane J., whose reasons for judgment we have had the advantage of reading, has concluded that an action on a quantum meruit, such as that brought by the appellant, rests, not on implied contract, but on a claim to restitution or one based on unjust enrichment, arising from the respondent's acceptance of the benefits accruing to the respondent from the appellant's performance of the unenforceable oral contract. This conclusion does not accord with the acceptance by Williams, Fullagar and Kitto JJ. in Turner v Bladin (at p 474) of the views expressed by Lord Denning in his articles in (1925) 41 Law Quarterly Review p 79, and (1939) 55 Law Quarterly Review p 54, basing such a claim in implied contract. These views were a natural reflection of prevailing legal thinking as it had developed to that time. The members of this Court were then unaware that his Lordship had, in his judgment in James v Thomas H. Kent & Co. Ld. (1951) 1 KB 551, as reported in the authorized reports, discarded his earlier views in favour of the restitution or unjust enrichment theory. Since then the shortcomings of the implied contract theory have been rigorously exposed (see Goff and Jones, The Law of Restitution 2nd ed. (1978) pp.5-11) and the virtues of an approach based on restitution and unjust enrichment, initially advocated by Lord Mansfield and later by Fuller and Perdue (see (1936-37) 46 Yale Law Journal 52 , 373, esp. at p.387 ), widely appreciated (Goff and Jones, op cit. at p.15 et seq.; and see Deglman v Guaranty Trust(1954) 3 DLR 785, at pp 794-795). We are therefore now justified in recognizing, as Deane J. has done, that the true foundation of the right to recover on a quantum meruit does not depend on the existence of an implied contract. - Pavey & Matthews Pty Ltd v Paul (F C 87/004) [1987] HCA 5 [1987] HCA 5

Let Us Help You

  • Take action against breaches of fiduciary duty (solicitor/client, trustee/beneficiary and employee/employer) by seeking appropriate relief such as declarations of trust or an account of profits;
  • bring a claim for specific performance such as in a contract for the sale of land where damages would be inadequate;
  • approach the Supreme Court for an injunction;
  • defend actions involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty where for instance informed consent was obtained from the principal;
  • address breaches of confidence by seeking relief such as an injunction, damages and delivery up of the documents;
  • try and set aside transactions that were brought about by undue influence or unconscionable conduct;
  • defend allegations of undue influence or unconscionable conduct in appropriate matters;
  • claim estoppel in appropriate matters where you suffered detriment due to the conduct of the other party
  • pray such defences as may be available to you including: unclean hands on the part of the plaintiff, laches acquiescence and delay, hardship and so on

We are litigation lawyers who, among other, help with: an equity claim or dispute, getting an injunction (checklist), relief against forfeitureappointing a receiver, specific performance, rescission of a contractrectifying a contract, unjust or unconscionable contract, getting out of an unjust contract, defending a claim that a contract is unjust, setting aside a guarantee obtained in unconscionable circumstances, dealing with a breach of fiduciary duty, getting an account of profits, when to seek an account, or defences to a claim for the taking of accounts, use of a court appointed referee, when to ask for a court appointed referee, adopting a report from a referee, challenging a report from a referee, trust disputes, disputes over an express trust, seeking a resulting trust, seeking a constructive trust etc. Call us on T:​​​​ +61 2 9199 4530 to find out more. 


* This content does not purport to give legal advice. Readers must obtain their own legal advice, that applies to the particular circumstances of their case, before taking any action at all.