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Equitable means fair or impartial. In legal context it can relate to “equity” as opposed to “law”. The distinction between equity and law originates from England where courts were divided into two kinds, courts of equity and courts of law.  For example a court of equity (as opposed to a court of law) can give equitable relief.  Equitable relief represents a remedy apart from money damages, for example, ordering the losing party to fulfil their contractual duties (see also, specific performance). This represents an outcome based on fairness and justness rather than legal technicalities. In the United States, almost all courts have combined jurisdiction over equity and law.

See also, equitable estoppel, equitable lien, equitable distribution, equitable ownership, and equitable subordination.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]