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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/66

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tort. Nor does the writer see any reason to doubt that it would also be a tort maliciously to procure another person to destroy an obligation, even though the person committing the act of destruction were the obligor.[1]

For most practical purposes, however, it may be said with sufficient correctness that a right created by a personal obligation is subject to violation only by a breach of the obligation, and hence only by the obligor; for it will very seldom happen that any question will arise as to the violation of such a right by any person other than the obligor, or in any way other than by a breach of the obligation.

What has thus far been said of rights and their violation has in it no element of equity. The rights which have been described may be defined as original and independent rights, and equity has no voice either in the creation of such rights or in deciding in whom they are vested. Equity cannot, therefore, create personal rights which are unknown to the law; nor can it say that a res, which by law has no owner, is a subject of ownership, nor that a res belongs to A which by law belongs to B; nor can it impose upon a person or a thing an obligation which by law does not exist; nor can it declare that a right arising from an obligation is assignable, if by law it is not assignable. To say that equity can do any of these things would be to say that equity is a separate and independent system of law, or that it is superior to law.

If there is no element of equity in a right, neither is there in the violation of that right; for what is a violation of a right depends entirely upon the extent of the right. If, therefore, equity could declare that a right has been violated when by law it has not, it could thus enlarge the right of one man and curtail that of another.

When, however, it is said that equity has no voice in a given question, it must not be inferred that a judge sitting in equity has no such voice. An equity judge administers the same system of law that a common-law judge does; and he is therefore constantly called upon to decide legal questions. It, therefore, sometimes happens that courts of equity and courts of common law declare the law differently; and a consequence of this may be that courts of equity will recognize a certain right which courts of common


  1. See the observations of Professor Ames, supra, page 10.