"Unclean Hands": A Dirty Defense in Ontario Law
Have you ever heard the saying, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? Well, in the world of Ontario law, this saying takes on a whole new meaning with the "unclean hands" doctrine.
The unclean hands doctrine is a legal defense that can be raised by a defendant in a lawsuit to challenge the plaintiff's claim on the grounds that the plaintiff has engaged in wrongdoing or has acted improperly in relation to the subject matter of the claim. In other words, if the plaintiff has "unclean hands," the court may refuse to grant relief to the plaintiff and dismiss their claim.
But what does it mean to have "unclean hands"? Essentially, it means that the plaintiff has engaged in misconduct or unethical behavior that is related to the subject matter of the lawsuit. For example, if a plaintiff sues a business for breach of contract, but the plaintiff themselves has also breached the contract, the defendant may be able to raise the unclean hands defense and argue that the plaintiff is not entitled to any relief.
So, the next time you find yourself in a legal dispute, be sure to keep your hands clean! Otherwise, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an "unclean hands" defense and walk away empty-handed.