Taylor v. Chester

Taylor v. Chester

 (1869) LR 4 QB 309


Plaintiff deposited with the defendant half of alleged bank note as pledge. The debt was contracted to enjoy the services of brothel kept by the defendant. The plaintiff brought an action to recover the half note.

ISSUE: Whether plaintiff could recover half bank note given to defendant as pledge for enjoying services of latter’s brothel?


Summary of Judgment: Maxim “in pari delicto potior est conditio possidentis” applies; and that as plaintiff could not recover without showing the true character of the deposit and that being on an illegal consideration of which he himself was a party, he could n0t recover anything.

The maxim, “in pari delicto…” is founded upon the principles of public policy, which states that courts will not assist plaintiff who has paid over money or handed over property in pursuance of an illegal or immoral agreement, fully knowing its nature. The true test for determining whether plaintiff and defendant were ‘in pari delicto’ is by considering whether plaintiff could make out his case without the aid of illegal transaction of which he himself was party.

In present case, illegality was not collateral to the contract but the direct result of the transaction upon which the deposit of half note took place. Hence, judgment for defendant.


Author: Vishrut Kansal (National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata)

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