What is the legal test for the use of the “clean hands” defence in property transactions?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from Williamson v. Saywell et al., 2006 BCSC 1307 (CanLII):

The use of the defence is qualified by the equitable “clean hands” doctrine. In Tinsley v. Milligan, [1993] 3 All E.R. 65, the court explained the doctrine at ¶9 as follows: [I]f A puts property in the name of B intending to conceal his (A’s) interest in the property for a fraudulent or illegal purpose, neither law nor equity will allow A to recover the property, and equity will not assist him in asserting an equitable interest in it. This principle applies whether the transaction takes the form of a transfer of property by A to B, or the purchase by A of property in the name of B.

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