Open main menu

Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/69

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

land, and did not require any change of possession.[1] Equity introduced the hypotheca without any violation of law, and with the most beneficial effects. Why? Because equity introduced it as a right in personam only.

Legal personal obligations may be created without limitation, either in respect to the persons between whom, or the purposes for which, they are created, provided the latter be not illegal. But it is otherwise with equitable obligations; for, as they must be founded originally upon legal rights, so they can be imposed originally only upon persons in whom legal rights are vested, and only in respect of such legal rights; i.e., only for the purpose of imposing upon the obligors in favor of the obligees some duty in respect to such legal rights. But the original creation of equitable obligations is subject to still further limitations, for it is not all legal rights that can be the subjects of equitable obligations. Only those can be so which are alienable in their nature. Of absolute rights, therefore, none of those which are personal can ever be the subjects of equitable obligations, while nearly all rights which consist in ownership can be the subjects of such obligations. Relative rights can generally be the subjects of equitable obligations, but not always. For example, some rights arising from real obligations, are inseparably annexed to the ownership of certain land, and, therefore, are not alienable by themselves. So, also, some rights arising from personal obligations are so purely personal to the obligee as to be obviously inalienable. It is only necessary to mention, as an extreme case, the right arising from a promise to marry.

What has thus far been said applies to equitable rights as originally created, i.e., to equitable rights which are derived immediately from legal rights; but there are equitable rights which are derived from legal rights only mediately. For, when an


shown, as the writer thinks, that he will not. (See supra, pp. 911.) To hold otherwise would be to hold that equity will not afford the same protection to property of its own creation that it does to property not of its own creation; which would be not only absurd in itself, but contrary to the principle that equitable property is governed by the same rules as legal property.

If Prof. Ames’s doctrine is correct, it proves the statement in the text, namely, that equity will not create a true, real obligation (i.e., one which will follow the res into the hands of a purchaser for value and without notice), even when it has the power to do so; for of course, as between conflicting rights of its own creation, equity may do whatever justice is supposed to require.

  1. See supra, page 56, note 3.