The Doctrine of “Clean Hands”

The Doctrine of “Clean Hands” | Disinherited Estate Litigation

In an action for fraud and misrepresentation Wang v Wang 2020 BCCA 15 the BC Appeal court found the trial judge was incorrect in disallowing a claim by reason that the plaintiff was not coming to court “with clean hands” while seeking an equitable remedy.

The appeal court held that the plaintiff was not barred from an equitable remedy as the clean hands doctrine was narrow and did not encompass her activities.

The clean hands doctrine decrees that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands” Mayer v Mayer 2012 BCCA 77.

The doctrine is narrowly applied, however, and does not entitle the court to Candace all aspects of the parties behavior knowing to the court. Its use must be to the circle behavior related to the relief sought.

In DeJesus v Shariff 2010 BCCA 121 at para. 85 . The court adopted this passage from Snell’s Equity 30th ed. at 32:

The maximum must not be taken to widely. Equity does not demand that it’s suitors shall have blameless lives. What bars the claim is not a general depravity that one which has an immediate and necessary relation to the equity sued for, and is not balanced by any mitigating factors.

The court also adopted the statement from the Principles of Equitable Remedies, 2001 at 169 – 170:

“It must be shown in order to justify refusal of relief, that there is such an immediate and necessary relation between the relief sought and the delinquent behavior in question that it would be unjust to grant that particular relief. So, what was once emphasize that general fraudulent conduct signifies nothing; the general dishonesty of purpose signifies nothing; but attempts to overreach go for nothing; and an intention and designed to receive may go for nothing, unless all this dishonesty of purpose, all this fraud, all this intention and design, can be connected with the particular transaction, and not only connected with the particular transaction, but must be made to be the very ground upon which the transaction took place, and must have given rise to this contract.”