This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
While equity denies relief where the remedy at law is full, adequate and complete, it does not necessarily follow that the existence of a defense at law will prevent equity from granting relief to one who wishes to take advantage of the transaction in question, and who does not wish to defend against liability arising thereunder. One who has been induced to enter into a written contract through fraudulent representations by the adversary party as to the contents of such contract, may avoid liability upon such contract at law, if he wishes to set up such fraud as a defense,1 and he could set up such defense at common law, even if the contract were under seal.2 The party who has thus been deceived may, however, wish to enforce the contract in accordance with the terms which the adversary party represented to him were inserted in the written contract. In such cases the fact that he could have avoided liability at law under the contract does not prevent his obtaining reformation in equity,3 if the other elements which justify reformation are present.4
In some jurisdictions reformation can not be given where the mistake has been carried into judicial proceedings and a decree and a conveyance thereunder, so as to correct all of such mistakes. At best, only the original instrument can be reformed; and new proceedings brought on the instrument as reformed. Fisher v. Villamil, 62 Fla. 472, 39 L. R. A. (N.S.) 90, 56 So. 559.
See also, Schwartz v. Cahill, 220 N. Y. 174, 115 X. E. 451.
1 Florida. Phenix Ins. Co. v. Hil-liard, 59 Fla. 590, 138 Am. St. Rep. 171,52 So. 799; Baldwin v. Christopher, - Fla. - , 79 So. 339.
Indiana. Ray v. Ferrell, 127 Ind. 570, 27 N. E. 159.
Michigan. Harlow v. Jaseph, 183 Mich. 500, 149 N. W. 1047.
New York. Welles v. Yates, 44 N. Y. 525.
Virginia. Tazewell Coal and Iron Co. v. Gillespie, 114 Va. 141, 75 S. E. 757 [affirming on rehearing, Tazewell Coal and Iron Co. v. Gillespie, 113 Va. 134, 75 S. E. 757].
Wisconsin. Moore v. Michaelson, 152 Wis. 352, 140 N. W. 28.
2 Bowers v. Bennett, 30 Ida. 1S8, 164 Pac. 93.
3 Bowers v. Bennett, 30 Ida. 188, 10! Pac. 93.
4 Bowers v. Bennett, 30 Ida. 188, 164 Pac. 93.
If relief can be had by applying to a public officer who is bound in law to correct such mistake, and such application is not made, equity will not grant reformation.5