Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

A right of action cannot arise out of fraud.




The maxim is a general rule of public policy, which describes that the courts will not sustain an action which arises out of the moral turpitude or by the violation of general law, by the plaintiff. In general, no court will lend its aid to a man whose cause of action aroused upon an immoral or an illegal act.

According to this maxim, the parties deserve no relief at the hands of the law because they have acted illegally. Where there has been a fraud, undue influence or oppression on part of the defendant, although both the parties have participated in an unlawful transaction, the illegality of the agreement may to a certain extent be disregarded. The fraudulent person is responsible for the illegal contract, and hence should not be allowed to hide behind it as a defense when an action is brought against him.

Case Laws

In R.Chandrasekaran vs S.Karthik, the Madras High Court referring to the maxim Ex Dolo Malo Non Oritur Actio held that the revision petitioner cannot lay his claim to retain a possession that resulted out of his illegality.

In Lalit Chandra Raisurana vs Tak Machinery Ltd., the Patna High Court referred to the above maxim and held that under Section 23 of the Contract Act the consideration or object of an agreement is lawful unless it is opposed to public policy. Every agreement of which the object or consideration is unlawful is void. Hence there can be no doubt that an agreement to oust absolutely the jurisdiction of the Court will be unlawful and void being against the public policy.

In Abdula Saheb vs Guruvappa And Co., the Madras High Court held that “No Court will lend its aid to a man who founds his cause of action upon an immoral or an illegal act. If from the plaintiff’s own stating or otherwise, the cause of action appears to arise transgression of positive law, then the Court would likely state that he has no right to be assisted.

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