What Does Clean Hands Mean in Law

The clean hands doctrine is a rule of law that a person who initiates a lawsuit or motion and seeks a fair remedy from the court must be innocent of wrongdoing or dishonest conduct in relation to the subject matter of his or her claim. It is an affirmative defense that the defendant can claim that the plaintiff has “impure hands.” However, that defence cannot be used to call into question the applicant`s conduct, which is not linked to the applicant`s claim. Therefore, the unrelated acts of corruption and the general immoral nature of the applicant would not be relevant. The defendant must prove that the plaintiff misled the defendant or did something wrong. Misconduct may be of a legal or moral nature as long as it relates to the matter in question. Example 1: A physician (plaintiff) who has left a physician corporation sues other physicians who are still in the corporation for the money that would be owed to him under his or her contract with the corporation. The defense raises a defense with impure hands because the plaintiff tried to remove patients from the company`s practice. He also told incriminating lies about the doctors remaining in the partnership to convince patients to leave the partnership and come to him instead. In this case, the doctor would not be able to successfully sue for the money for cheap reasons, because he has dirty hands. Example 3: Suppose Company 1 was able to obtain confidential customer information from Company 2 in 2000. This was not done by legitimate means, but by illegal or immoral behavior. Then, six years later, in 2006, Company 2 stole confidential information about Company 1`s customers.

Company 1 is suing Company 2 to retrieve customers` confidential information and enforce an injunction to prevent further theft of information. Company 1 will not win because it sued Company 2 with “impure hands”. In such a case, the defendant would undoubtedly prove that the plaintiff acted in bad faith or in an unethical manner and is therefore not qualified to meet the standards of fairness or justice to enforce a claim or obtain a judgment. A defendant`s dirty hands may also be claimed and proven by the plaintiff in order to seek other fair remedies and to prevent that defendant from asserting appropriate positive defenses. In other words, “impure hands” can be used both offensively by the plaintiff and defensively by the defendant. Historically, the doctrine of impure hands dates back to the Fourth Lateran Council. [Citation needed] “Whoever comes to court must come with clean hands” is a just maxim in English law. A defence available to the defendant would be to claim that the plaintiff`s hands are dirty because the plaintiff misled the defendant or did something else wrong about the subject matter under consideration. To successfully assert the affirmative defense of dirty hands, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff actually misled the defendant or that a particular fault is related to the case in question.

This defence cannot be used to discuss the plaintiff`s conduct, which has nothing to do with the subject matter of the claim. Clean Hands is the legal principle that only a party who has done nothing wrong can go to court with a lawsuit against the other person.3 min read Clean Hands is the legal principle that only a party who has done nothing wrong can go to court with a lawsuit against the other person. If the party bringing the action has acted unfairly, unlawfully, dishonestly or otherwise immorally in relation to the object in question, then it has violated a just principle and has “impure hands”. Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/legal/clean%20hands%20doctrine. Retrieved 14 January 2022. For example, if a seller sues a customer for payments for a contract, the defendant can claim that the plaintiff has dirty hands because he fraudulently deceived him into signing the contract. A court of law does not rule on questions of fairness and justice if it is proved that the person seeking such justice has acted incorrectly in relation to the question in question. In another example, when a brokerage firm claimed that its confidential customer information had been stolen by competition, the court found that the company did not come to court with “clean hands” because it had concluded that the firm had shown a similar lack of consideration for the competitor`s confidential client information when it lured the same broker into the trap six years earlier.

For example, in Holy Roman Catholic School v. Boley, the defendant, opened an account at a pharmacy in favor of the plaintiff so that the plaintiff could receive medication for his work-related injuries. .