Between equal equities the first in order of time shall prevail
Ř This maxim operates where there are two or more competing interests, one legal and the other equitable. Where the claims of both parties are fair and meritorious, precedence will be given to the legal interest. This maxim was developed in connection with interests in lands. When a purchaser acquires property bona fide without notice of a defect in the vendor’s title, the equities are equal and the legal estate will prevail. If the purchaser takes title with notice of the defect, the earlier title, if valid, will prevail. The force of this maxim has largely been displaced by legislated systems of land title registration.
Ř When two parties each have a right to possess something, then the one who acquired an interest first should prevail in equity. For example, a man advertises a small boat for sale in the classified section of the newspaper. The first person to see the ad offers him $20 less than the asking price, but the man accepts it. That person says he or she will pick up the boat and pay for it on Saturday. Meanwhile another person comes by, offers the man more money, and the man takes it. Who owns the boat? Contract law and equity agree that the first buyer gets the boat, and the second buyer gets his or her money back.
Ř This maxim operates where there are two or more competing interests, one legal and the other equitable. Where the claims of both parties are fair and meritorious, precedence will be given to the legal interest. This maxim was developed in connection with interests in lands. When a purchaser acquires property bona fide without notice of a defect in the vendor’s title, the equities are equal and the
legal estate will prevail. If the purchaser takes title with notice of the defect, the earlier title, if valid, will prevail. The force of this maxim has largely been displaced by legislated systems of land title registration.

Cave v. Cave (1880) 15 Ch D 639.Fry J.

These notes were last updated 10 Aug 96.
Summary

This case is a good illustration of the equitable notice doctrine, and also priorities as between successive equitable interests. But cases should not be seen only as illustrations, and it does actually advance the law also: new law.
Facts

The sole trustee under a marriage settlement was also a solicitor. He and a member of the family fraudulently used the money to purchase the freehold in a house, upon which he raised a legal mortgage, followed by a number of equitable mortgages. When the fraud was discovered the house raised less money than all the claims on it, and the issue was the order in which claimants were to be paid.
Decision

The first mortgagee took first, having no notice of the interest of the beneficiaries under the marriage settlement, as a bona fide purchaser of the legal estate (in the house) for value without notice. This is an application of the equitable maxim:
"Where there is equal equity, the law shall prevail."
Because the first mortgagee had no notice, there was equal equity as between him and the beneficiaries.
Subsequent mortgagees had only equitable estates, however, which (although they too had no notice of the beneficiaries' rights) took subject to those (prior) rights. This is an application of the equitable maxim:
"Where the equities are equal, the first in time shall prevail."
Indeed, Fry J. observed (at p.648):
"As between persons having only equitable interests, if their equities are in all other respects equal, priority of time gives the better equity, or, 'Qui prior est tempore potior est jure.'"
New law

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Obviously, the general workings of the equitable notice doctrine, and the priorities between earlier and later equitable interests, were known long before this case. But the case nevertheless advanced the law in two respects:
1. Charles Cave acted as solicitor for both mortgagor and mortgagee. But notice was not imputed to the mortgagee since the solicitor was party to a fraud. Fry J. observed at p.644:
"... the act done by the agent is such as cannot be said to be done by him in his character of agent, but is done by him in the character of a party to an independent fraud on his principal, and that is not to be imputed to the principal as an act done by his agent."
2. The benficiaries' interest was in a fund of money, which they were able to trace into the house, and it was argued that this gave them less than a full equitable interest in the house (an argument which Fry J. rejected).
Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
Plato quotes
The 10 Commandments - God's Revelation in the Old Testament
The 10 Commandments are found in the Bible's Old Testament at Exodus, Chapter 20. They were given directly by God to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai after He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt:

"And God spoke all these words, saying: 'I am the LORD your God…
ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'
TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'
THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.'
FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'
FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.'
SIX: 'You shall not murder.'
SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'
EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'
NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'
TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'