Introduction: Lord Kames and His Principles of Equity
LORD KAMES AND HIS PRINCIPLES OF EQUITY, Third Edition, Henry Home, ed., 2011
65 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2011
Date Written: July 1, 2011
One should regard the Principles of Equity by Lord Kames (1696-1782) as a work of applied legal philosophy rather than black-letter law. It is secondary whether the law was exactly as stated in the Principles of Equity, especially as that would have been the legal situation 250 years ago anyway. What is relevant is that the book contains a logically organised and principled jurisprudential discussion of scenarios of conflicts and proposed solutions by the law of equity. One should be able to detect and develop a set of legal solution mechanisms, abstract paradigms of concrete legal rules which may serve as an inspiring force for real life solutions without slavish adherence to the model. The Principles of Equity fill the gap between the philosopher who is often creative but not meticulous, and the lawyer who is often meticulous but exegetic. Where the lawyer has to be meticulous and creative and needs the approach of an applied philosopher as well as a legal specialist, particularly in the role as a legal theorist or as a draftsperson of statutes and contracts, he or she will find an excellent teacher in Kames. His work shows that law is not rote learning of statutes and cases and their mechanical application, but a craft as a basis for the art of justice, a craft that should be rooted more in reason than in authority.
Keywords: Lord Kames, Henry Home, Principles of Equity, Jurisprudence, Applied Philosophy, Property, Trust, Contract
JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation