Legal Dictionary


Definition of consent


    Recorded in Middle English since circa 1225, from Old French consentir, from Latin cōnsentīre, present active infinitive of cōnsentiō (“to feel together”), itself from com- (“with”) + sentiō (“to feel”)



consent (third-person singular simple present consents, present participle consenting, simple past and past participle consented)

  1. (intransitive) To express willingness, to give permission.

    I've consented to have the procedure performed.

  2. (transitive, medicine) To cause to sign a consent form.

    * 2002, T Usmani, KD O'Brien, HV Worthington, S Derwent, D …, “A randomized clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of canine lacebacks with reference to ...”, Journal of Orthodontics:
    When the patient was consented to enter the study and registered, a telephone call was made to research assistant

Usage notes

  • This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive.


  • (intransitive): agree, assent, approve


consent (plural consents)

  1. Voluntary agreement or permission

    * 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.6:
    All men know by experience, there be some parts of our bodies which often without any consent of ours doe stirre, stand, and lye down againe.


  • (voluntary agreement): agreement, willingness, permission, approval

Further reading

Consent refers to the provision of approval or assent, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.

Types of consent

  • Implied consent is a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person's actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation (or in some cases, by a person's silence or inaction).
  • Expressed consent may be in verbal, nonverbal or written form and is clearly and unmistakably stated.
    • Verbal consent is given by using verbal communication.
    • Nonverbal consent is given by using nonverbal communication.
    • Unanimous consent, or general consent, is a parliamentary procedure.


    Can be either expressed or implied. For example, participation in a contact sport usually implies consent to contact by other participants, when contact is permitted by the rules of the sport. Express consent exists when verbal or written contractual agreement occurs.

    If a person signs a document stating that he or she is aware of the hazards of an activity, and that individual is then injured during that activity, the express consent given in advance may excuse another person who caused an injury to that person.

    In English law, the principle of volenti non fit injuria applies not only to participants in sport, but also to spectators and to any others who willingly engage in activities where there is a risk of injury. Consent has also been used as a defense in cases involving accidental deaths, which occur during sexual bondage. Time (May 23, 1988) referred to this latter example, as the "rough-sex defense" but it is not effective in English law when serious injury or death results.

    As a term of jurisprudence prior provision of consent signifies a possible defence (an excuse or justification) against civil or criminal liability. Defendants who use this defense are arguing that they should not be held liable for a tort or a crime, since the actions in question occurred with the plaintiff or "victim's" prior consent and permission.

    For rape that involves criminal law in the United Kingdom


    The question of consent is important in medical law. For example, a surgeon may be liable in trespass (battery) if they do not obtain consent for a procedure. There are exemptions, such as when the patient is unable to give consent.

    Also, a surgeon must explain the significant risks of a procedure (those that might change the patient's mind about whether or not to have it) before the patient can give binding consent. This was explored in Australia in Rogers v. Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479. If a surgeon does not explain a material risk that subsequently eventuates, then that is considered negligent. These material risks include the loss of chance of a better result if a more experienced surgeon had performed the procedure.

    Planning law

    Some countries, such as New Zealand with its Resource Management Act and its Building Act, use the term "consent" for the legal process that provide planning permission for developments like subdivisions, bridges or buildings. Achieving permission results in getting "Resource consent" or "Building consent".


    1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     landed property
2.     lex fori
3.     status quo
4.     ownership
5.     lex loci delicti commissi
6.     lex situs
7.     sodomy
8.     lex causae
9.     unjustified
10.     AORO