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Words of Law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law.

Today’s phrase is  in pari delicto.

in pari delicto (in par-I dә-lik-toh), adv. [Latin “in equal fault’] Equally at fault <the court denied relief because both parties stood in pari delicto>.

in pari delicto doctrine, n. [Latin] (1917) The principle that a plaintiff who has participated in wrongdoing may not recover damages resulting from the wrongdoing.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed., Editor in Chief, Bryan A. Garner, Thomson Reuters, 2014.


“The doctrine of in pari delicto bars a plaintiff who has participated in wrongdoing from recovering damages for loss resulting from the wrongdoing. . . The doctrine, of long standing, rests on the theory that courts will not lend aid to parties who base their cause of action on their own immoral or illegal acts.”

Choquette v. Isacoff, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 1 (2005)

“. . . the client’s deliberate act of lying under oath places that client in pari delicto with the attorney who advised that client to lie.”

Evans v. Cameron, 121 Wis. 2d 421 (1985)

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