The Rule of Pari Delicto

Petitioners invoke the rule of pari delicto to support their contention that respondents do not deserve any relief from the courts.

The principle of pari delicto provides that when two parties are equally at fault, the law leaves them as they are and denies recovery by either one of them. Indeed, one who seeks equity and justice must come to court with clean hands. However, in the present case, petitioners were not able to establish that respondents are also at fault. Thus, the principle of pari delicto cannot apply.
In any case, the application of the pari delicto principle is not absolute, as there are exceptions to its application. One of these exceptions is where the application of the pari delicto rule would violate well-established public policy. The prevention of lawlessness and the maintenance of peace and order are established public policies. In the instant case, to deny respondents relief on the ground of pari delicto would put a premium on the illegal act of petitioners in taking from respondents what the former claim to be rightfully theirs. (G.R. No. 155033; December 19, 2007)