I find it convenient at this stage to unveil that Latin phrase “IN PARI DELICTO”. This is a Latin phrase for “in equal fault”. It is a legal term used to indicate that two persons or entities are equally at fault, whether the malfeasance in question is a crime or tort. The phrase is most commonly used by courts when relief is being denied to both parties in a civil action because of wrong doing by both parties. The phrase means in essence, that since both parties are equally at fault, the court will not involve itself in resolving one side’s claim over the others, and whoever possesses whatever is in dispute may continue to do so in the absence of a superior claim. The doctrine is similar to defence of unclean hands, both of which are equitable defences.

– Adekeye JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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It is also true that in law parties to an illegal contract cannot seek any remedy over such illegal contract in Court, yet in law no one can be allowed in good conscience and in equity, to benefit from his own wrong and resile from a contract after taking the benefit therefrom. In law therefore, when parties to a transaction are both at fault rendering the transaction irregular or faulty, it is said that the condition of the Defendant is better in that the Claimant who is also in fault would stand no better chance in repudiating the transaction, which though found or turned out to be irregular, he was also in fault. This is buttressed by the Latin maxim: ‘in pari delicto potion est condition defendant’. See Ukejianya v. Uchendu (1950) 13 WACA 45: Ekpenyong v. Nyong (1975) 2 SC 71; Abubakri v. Smith (1975) 6 SC 31, Oyegoke v. Iriguna (2001) FWLR (Pt. 75) 448 @ p. 451; Ibrahim v. Osim (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt. 82) 257 @ p. 278; Oilfield Supply Centre Ltd v. Lloyd Johnson (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 58) 625); Pan Bisbilder (Nig) Ltd v. FBN Ltd (2000) 1 NWLR (Pt. 642) 684 @ p. 695.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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