Par delictum

Par delictum

Literal Meaning

Equal fault.


This maxim prescribes that a party should not obtain satisfaction from a court of law with where his own conduct is wrongful. When the parties to a legal controversy are in pari delicto, neither can obtain affirmative relief from the court, since both areat equal fault or of equal guilt. They will remain in the same situation they were in prior to the commencement of the action.




This maxim means that “if both (parties) are in the wrong, a defence is set up”. 

Case References

Smith v. Cuff,  [1817] 6 M. & S. 160

In this case Lord Ellen borough says that “It can never be predicated as par delictum when one holds the rod and the other bows to it.”

Androcles Ndlovu v. Ngwato Land Board, 2007 SCC OnLine BWCA 15

In this case court held that even assuming that there had been in existence some sort of illegal oral or tacit lease, court satisfied that the par delictum rule could not have been invoked to prevent the respondent from evicting the appellant.

Johann De Bruyn v. Derick Du Toit, 2015 SCC OnLine ZAWCHC 23

Van der Westhuizen J, writing for the majority in Opperman, pointed out that recovery in such circumstances is ordinarily barred by the par delictum rule but that this has been ameliorated by recognising a discretionary power to permit recovery in accordance with considerations of fairness.

Edited by Sree Ramya

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje