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EQUITY

generally, justice or fairness. Historically, equity refers to a separate body of law developed in England in reaction to the inability of the common law courts, in their strict adherence to rigid writs and forms of action, to consider or provide a remedy for every injury. The king therefore established the court of chancery, to do justice between parties in cases where the common law would give inadequate redress. The principles of the jurisprudence is that equity will find a way to achieve a lawful result when legal procedure is inadequate. Equity and law courts are now merged in most jurisdictions, though equity jurisprudence and equitable doctrines are still independently viable.
Equity also refers to the value of property minus liens or other encumbrances. For example, one's equity in a home with a mortgage is the value of th eproperty beyond the amount of the mortgage debt.
In accounting, equity refers to the ownership interest in a company as determined by subtracting liabilities from assets. See balance sheet. For incorporated business enterprises, equity is owned by the common and preferred shareholders. If the corporation is publicly held, the shares will be traded on a stock exchange or over-the-counter market which together comprise the EQUITY MARKET.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016

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