Owner seeking to enforce DMC covenants must come with clean hands

In Perfect China International Ltd v Chan Yat Siu ([2012] HKEC 1025, Lands Tribunal) P and C were neighbours. There were structures on each of their properties that were in breach of the DMC. Each sought equitable remedies in the form of declarations and injunctions. Each failed on the basis that they did not come with clean hands since each of them had unlawful structures on their own property ([46] and [67]). In the case of P, there was also the fact that he had encouraged C to commit the breach. This gave rise to a successful defence based on acquiescence so that he was estopped from seeking relief in respect of the works that he had encouraged. It may also have been an aspect of the finding that he did not come to equity with clean hands ([46]).

Even if the unlawful structures existed before the owner bought his property, this fact would afford no defence. Nor would the fact that the Estate was full of unlawful structures (appalling though this would be if true) afford any defence.

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