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Defenses in Equity and Legal Rights (with John Endicott), 14 Louisiana Law Review 380 (1954)


The books are full of expressions to the effect that the law will do dirty work which a "court of conscience" is too refined to touch. Here are typical examples: "The company may have a valid legal obligation against her, but a court of equity will not enforce it when it is inequitable to do so .... " or, "With an action at law available to appellants, with equity with the respondent, and taking cognizance of more delicate distinctions between right and wrong than may be had in courts of law .... " The Comment to Section 367 of the Restatement of Contracts observes: "Even though the plaintiff's conduct has not been such as to cause a court to refuse him a judgment for damages ... it may be such as to disentitle him to the remedy of specific performance." The Comment to Section 940 of the Restatement of Torts, under the heading "Unclean Hands" makes a sharp distinction between the "discretionary withholding of injunctive protection to a recognized right" and those misdeeds of a plaintiff which "operate, as a matter of substantive law, to prevent the existence of tort liability on the part of the defendant."

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