Equity and the value of gifts

Robin Hickey, Matthew Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we aim to consider equity’s responses to gifts in a new way. We begin by setting out an account of human values that are associated with donative practices and that lend value to gifts themselves. With this map of the values associated with gifts in view, we then turn to consider some equitable responses to gifts, arranged roughly on a spectrum in accordance with the measure of scepticism towards gifts that they might, at first glance, seem to entail. We discuss, in turn: (a) equity’s treatment of imperfect gifts; (b) equity’s treatment of promises to give; (c) the position in equity of donee recipients of misapplied trust assets; (d) the presumptions of resulting trust and (e) advancement; and (f) equity’s treatment of mistaken gifts. With respect to each type of case, we evaluate equity’s response to gifts in light of the range of human values associated with gifts. We conclude by examining some broad themes that emerge from this analysis, and in particular the extent to which equity might achieve a greater accommodation of donative values consistent with the demands of the rule of law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Equity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


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