Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio is a legal doctrine which means from an immoral cause no action arises. It applies to cases where a plaintiff loses his right to pursue a legal remedy if the same emerges in connection with his own illegal act. Thus, if the basis of the plaintiff’s action is unlawful, in general, he/ she will not succeed. This maxim is often used as a general defence in cases of civil wrongs of tort, contract and trusts.
In terms of contract, it allows the courts to deny contractual remedy on a defendant if the very subject matter of the contract is directly or by implication, contrary to the public policy or in contradiction with any existing law or custom.
Under torts, it does not outrightly disable the plaintiff from recovering and is not a complete bar on claim for damage. He/ she may claim compensation if the wrongful act is quite independent of the harm caused to him. However, he/ she may lose this action if the wrongful act is the real cause of his harm. The case could be that of contributory negligence, wherein, the compensation payable is reduced in proportion to his own fault in matter.In National Coal Board v England, the Court observed- If two burglars, A and B, agree to open a safe by means of explosives, and A so negligently handles the explosive charge as to injure B, then B might find some difficulty in maintaining an action for negligence against A.In the case of Patel v. Mirza (2016) UKSC 42, the court replaced this doctrine with a new set of principles. In this case, the claimant had given money to the defendant for using insider information which is an offence. However, the information ended up being false and the plaintiff filed the suit to recover the amount. The court ruled that the defendant would be unjustly enriched which was against public interest. Thus, the plaintiff was allowed to recover the amount allowing restitution of both parties.
Therefore, the public conscience test was upheld by the court.