unclean hands

noun plural

un·​clean 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.

Dictionary Entries Near unclean hands

Cite this Entry

“Unclean hands.” Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/unclean%20hands. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

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