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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Clean Hands, Principle

Stephen M Schwebel

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 19 April 2024

International organizations, practice and procedure — Equity — Settlement of disputes

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law under the direction of Professor Anne Peters (2021–) and Professor Rüdiger Wolfrum (2004–2020). 

1 The principle of ‘clean hands’ has its roots in Roman law. It finds expression in maxims of Roman law: ex dolo malo non oritur actio, nullus commodum capere potest de iniuria sua propria, and ex iniuria ius non oritur (Estoppel). 2 The most notable exposition and application of the principle (or more precisely, of an allied principle) in modern international law is found in opinions rendered by the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) in the Meuse, Diversion of Water Case (Netherlands v Belgium). The Netherlands and Belgium maintained that acts of the...
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