unclean hands

noun plural
un·​clean hands

Legal Definition of unclean hands

: an equitable doctrine: a complainant will be denied relief if he or she has engaged in misconduct (as acting in bad faith) directly relating to the complaint also : the condition of having engaged in such misconduct and being barred from equitable relief may not be invoked by a plaintiff with unclean hands Royal Sch. Labs., Inc. v. Town of Watertown, 358 F.2d 813 (1966)

Note: Unclean hands on the part of the plaintiff is often pleaded as an affirmative defense by the defendant.

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