Delivery Up and Cancellation of Documents

Equity will order the delivery up and cancellation of documents that are void or voidable.

Rich and Dixon JJ explained in Langman v Handover (1929) 43 CLR 344 at 352:

The jurisdiction of Courts of equity to direct delivery up and cancellation of instruments which, although good on their face, are, in fact, void, is thoroughly established by decisions. “ And these decisions are founded on the true principles of equity jurisprudence, which is not merely remedial, but is also preventive of injustice. If an instrument ought not to be used or enforced, it is against conscience for the party holding it to retain it; since he can only retain it for some sinister purpose” {Story, Equity Jurisprudence, sec. 700).

A Transcript of this case can be found here.

The basis of the jurisdiction is to prevent the offending document continuing in existence as a source of confusion to, and possible fraud by others.


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