Sat, May. 07, 2005

No Clean Hands in Competition

CK - Washington.   Equity requires clean hands of a party that raises a claim against another party: It may not itself have violated the law. Thefirst civil devision of the Supreme Court, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe, decided in such a constellation that German competition law does not know such a doctrine. Each claim has to be judged on its merits.

The Dr. Bahr blog notes today that the unclean hands problem is prominent in Anglo-American law. In the general German civil law, this principle is solved via the Treu und Glauben doctrine (§242) of the Civil Code. The court does not refer to the clean hands issue in its decision of February 24, 2005 in the matter I ZR 101/02 which is known as Vitamin-Zell-Komplex. The court clarified that in a suit among competitors for remedies against unfair competition, the unfairly competitive acts of the plaintiff do not rob the plaintiff of its claim for remedies against the defendants whose unfairly competitive acts harm the plaintiff. Handakte WebLAWg echoes this view.

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