What Interests in Land Are Recognised in Equity But Not at Law?

What Interests in Land Are Recognised in Equity But Not at Law?

Equity recognises certain interests in land that may not be recognised at law. These equitable interests provide individuals with rights and remedies that go beyond the strict legal ownership recognised by common law. Here are some examples of interests in land that are recognised in equity but not at law:

Equitable easements: An equitable easement is a right to use someone else's land for a specific purpose. It may arise when there is an informal arrangement or agreement between parties that is not enforceable as a legal easement. Equitable easements are typically created when someone has relied on the representation or conduct of another regarding the use of the land.

Equitable leases: An equitable lease arises when a person is in possession of land and has the right to occupy it, but there is no formal lease agreement in place. It may occur when there is an oral or informal agreement that does not satisfy the formal requirements for a legal lease. Equitable leases provide the occupier with certain rights and protections similar to those of a legal leaseholder.

Equitable mortgages: An equitable mortgage arises when a person has an interest in a property that serves as security for a loan or debt, but the mortgage is not created or perfected according to the formalities required by law. It may occur in situations where there is an informal agreement or where the necessary legal formalities are not met. Equitable mortgages allow the lender to enforce their rights in the property as if a legal mortgage had been created.

Equitable interests in land held on trust: Trusts are a fundamental concept in equity and can create equitable interests in land. A trust occurs when a person (the trustee) holds legal ownership of the property for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary). The trustee has a legal interest in the property, but the beneficiary has an equitable interest. Trusts can be used to hold and manage land for specific purposes or for the benefit of certain individuals. Equity recognises various interests in land held on trust, including beneficial interests, resulting trusts, and constructive trusts. These interests arise when the legal owner of the land holds it for the benefit of another person or for a specific purpose, as directed by the terms of a trust.

Equitable liens: An equitable lien is a right to have a property held as security for a debt or obligation, even though a legal mortgage or lien has not been created. It can arise through an agreement or conduct of the parties that indicates an intention to create a security interest. Equitable liens allow the creditor to enforce their rights against the property and seek payment or satisfaction of the debt.

Equitable servitudes: Equitable servitudes are enforceable restrictions or obligations that run with the land. They may be created through agreements or circumstances that indicate an intention to bind subsequent owners of the property. Equitable servitudes can regulate land use, impose obligations on owners, or confer benefits on specific individuals or properties.

Equitable proprietary estoppel: Equitable proprietary estoppel arises when a person has relied on a promise, representation, or assurance regarding the ownership or interest in land and has acted to their detriment based on that reliance. It can create an equitable interest in the land or prevent the landowner from denying the existence of the promised interest.

Equitable licenses: An equitable license is a personal right or permission to use someone else's land. It is not a legal interest in the land but rather a personal right enforceable in equity. Equitable licenses may arise in situations where there is no formal lease or easement agreement but where the landowner has granted permission for a specific use.

Equitable right of way: An equitable right of way is a non-legal right to pass over someone else's land. It may arise when there is an informal arrangement or long-standing usage of a pathway that does not satisfy the legal requirements for a right of way. Equitable rights of way can be enforced in equity to ensure continued access.

Equitable covenants: Equitable covenants are enforceable promises or obligations that relate to land. They may arise through agreements or circumstances indicating an intention to create a binding obligation. Equitable covenants can regulate land use, require certain actions or abstentions, or confer benefits on specific individuals or properties.

The above list illustrates the broad range of interests in land that equity recognises beyond what is recognised by common law. Remember that the availability and recognition of these equitable interests may vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.