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action at law or in equity

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by UncleB, Jun 11, 2020.

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  1. UncleB

    UncleB Law Topic Starter New Member

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    action at law or in equity is from a service contract.

    The sentence is:
    If any action at law or in equity is necessary, the prevailing party is entitled to be refunded of the legal expenses.

    Does "action at law" here refer to an action according to common law (in contrast to equity law)? Thank you very much in advance!
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    What US state? (This site is for US law matters only)
     
  3. UncleB

    UncleB Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you very much for your answer. I don't know the state. I only know that the contract is from the US.

    My English-German law dictionary says for "action at law" that this refers to an action according to common law. This would make sense because in the sentence from my contract it says "or in equity". So "at law" would be the contrast to "in equity". That means "at law" here would mean "common law".

    But Black's law dictionary says for "action at law": A civil suit stating a legal cuase of action and seeking only a legal remedy."
    For "suit at law" it says: A suit conducted according to the common law or equity, as distinguished from statutory provisions."
    So those definitions from Black's law dictionary seem to suggest that "action at law" does not refer to "common law", right?
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    There are over 50 different jurisdictions in the United States (and none of them are in Germany). If you are in Germany, then you should consult with local counsel.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    What difference does it make?

    If you're going to sue somebody, you're going to win based on your merits or you're going to lose based on lack of merit. Doesn't matter if it's equity, common law, or statute.

    So, what's happening to you that gives rise to the question?

    If you are just curious there are probably law libraries in Vienna or law resources online that can answer your question.

    However, since you are asking about US law, perhaps you could provide some details as to what's going on.
     
  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Civil actions in the U.S. traditionally were either at law or in equity, and the distinction mattered because the two types of actions were heard in different courts and there were some differing rules for actions at law than for actions in equity. Today in most states all the civil courts are combined and can hear both actions at law and at equity and the lawsuits are simply known as civil actions. The main difference between the two now is that some different rules still apply depending on which form of relief is sought (legal or equitable).

    However, for the purposes of your contract, what that phrase means is that the prevailing party in any civil suit between the parties is entitled to get reimbursed his legal expenses. The drafting of that sentence is old and outdated for contracts in at least most states.


    An action at law is an action in which the relief sought is a legal one (e.g. money damages), whereas an action in equity is one in which equitable relief is sought (e.g. injunctive relief).
     
  7. UncleB

    UncleB Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you very much for your help! This is a great forum!
     

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