Consent “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “consent” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):





To agree or give assent to something proposed or requested.


Agreement; approval; acquiescence. Unity of opinion – accord of minds – to thinking alike – being of one mind. Consent involves the presence of two or more persons, for without at least two persons there cannot be a unity of opinion, or an accord of minds, or any thinking alike [Huntley v Holt, 58 Conn 445, 449]. As a defense in a prosecution for rape: – an exercise of the intelligence, based upon knowledge of the significance of the act and the question for morality involved therein, in making a choice between resistance and assent [People v Palvino, 216 App Div 319, 214 NY 577, 578].


  1. An agreement to something proposed and differs from assent [Wolff, Ins. Nat. part 1, SSSS 27-30; Pard. Dr. Com. Part 2, tit. 1, n. 1, 38 to 178]. Consent supposes:
    1. a physical power to act
    2. a moral power of acting
    3. a serious, determined, and free use of these powers [Fonb. Eq. Bl 1, c. 2, s. 1; Grot. de Jure Belli et Pacis, lib. 2, c. 11, s. 6].
  2. Consent is either express or implied. Express, when it is given viva voce, or in writing; implied, when it is manifested by signs, actions, or facts, or by inaction or silence, which raise a presumption that the we consent has been given.
  3. When a legacy is given with a condition annexed to the bequest, requiring the consent of executors to the marriage of the legatee, and under such consent being given, a mutual attachment has been suffered to grow up, it would be rather late to state terms and conditions on which a marriage between the parties should take place [2 Ves. & Beames, 234; Ambl. 264; 2 Freem. 201]; unless such consent was obtained by deceit or fraud [1 Eden, 6; 1 Phillim. 200; 12 Ves. 19].
  4. Such a condition does not apply to a second marriage [3 Bro. C. C. 145; 3 Ves. 239].
  5. If the consent has been substantially given, though not modo et forma, the legatee will be held duly entitled to the legacy [1 Sim. & Stu. 172; 1 Meriv. 187; 2 Atk. 265].
  6. When trustees under a marriage settlement are empowered to sell “with the consent of the husband and, wife,” a sale made by the trustees without the distinct consent of the wife, cannot be a due execution of their power [10 Ves. 378].
  7. Where a power of sale requires that the sale should be with the consent of certain specified individuals, the fact of such consent having been given, ought to be evinced in the manner pointed out by the creator of the power, or such power will not be considered as properly executed [10 Ves. 308. Vide, generally, 2 Supp. to Ves. jr. 161, 165, 169; Ayliffe’s Pand. 117; 1 Rob. Leg.. 345, 539].
  8. Courts of equity have established the rule, that when the true owner of property stands by, and knowingly suffers a stranger to sell the same as his own, without objection, this will be such implied consent as to render the salve valid against the true owner [Story on Ag. 91 Story on Eq. Jur. 385 to 390]. And courts of law, unless restrained by technical formalities, act upon the principles of justice; as, for example, when a man permitted, without objection, the sale of his goods under an execution against another person [6 Adolph. & El 11.469 9 Barn. & Cr. 586; 3 Barn. & Adolph. 318, note].
  9. The consent which is implied in every agreement is excluded:
    1. By error in the essentials of the contract; is, if Paul, in the city of Philadelphia, buy the horse of Peter, which is in Boston, and promise to pay one one hundred dollars for him, the horse at the time of the sale, unknown to either party, being dead. This decision is founded on the rule that he who consents through error does not consent at all; non consentiunt qui errant [Dig. 2, 1, 15; Dig. Lib. 1, tit. Ult. 1. 116, 2].
    2. Consent is excluded by duress of the party making the agreement.
    3. Consent is never given so as to bind the parties, when it is obtained by fraud.
    4. It cannot be given by a person who has no understanding, as an idiot, nor by one who, though possessed of understanding, is not in law capable of making a contract, as a feme convert.



A concurrence of wills.

Express consent is that directly given, either viva voce or in writing.

Implied consent is that manifested by signs, actions, or facts, or by inaction or silence, which raise a presumption that the consent has been given [Cowen v. Paddock, 62 Hun. 622, 17 N.Y. Supp. 388].

Consent in an act of reason, accompanied with deliberation, the mind weighing as in a balance the good or evil on each side [1 Story, Eq. Jur. § 222; Plummer v. Com., 1 Bush (Ky.) 76; Dicken v. Johnson, 7 Ga. 492; Mactier v. Frith, 6 Wend. (N. Y.) 114, 21 Am. Dec. 262; People v. Studwell, 91 App. Div. 469, 86 N. Y. Supp. 967].

  • There is a difference between consenting and submitting. Every consent involves a submission; but the mere submission does not necessarily involve consent [9 Car. & P. 722].

  • Consent decree: see DECREE

  • Consent judgment: see JUDGMENT



CONSENT, n. [L., to be of one mind, to agree; to think, feel or perceive. See Sense and Assent.]

1. Agreement of the mind to what is proposed or state by another; accord; hence, a yielding of the mind or will to that which is proposed; as, a parent gives his consent to the marriage of his daughter. We generally use this word in cases where power, rights, and claims are concerned. We give consent, when we yield that which we have a right to withhold; but we do not give consent to a mere opinion, or abstract proposition. In this case, we give our assent. But assent is also used in conceding what we may withhold. We give our assent to the marriage of a daughter.

  • Consequently, assent has a more extensive application than consent. But the distinction is not always observed.
  • Consent often amounts to permission.
  • Defraud ye not one another, except with consent for a time. 1 Corinthians 7.
2. Accord of minds; agreement; unity of opinion.
  • All with one consent began to make excuse. Luke 14.
  • The company of priests murder by consent. Hosea. 6.
3. Agreement; coherence; correspondence in parts, qualities, or operation.
  • Such is the worlds great harmony that springs from union, order, full consent of things.
4. In the animal economy, an agreement, or sympathy, by which one affected part of the system affects some distant part. This consent is supposed to exist in, or be produced by the nerves; and the affections to be communicated from one part to another by means of their ramifications and distribution through the body. Thus, the stone in the bladder, by vellicating the fibers, will produce spasms and colic in the bowels; a shameful thing seen or heard will produce blushing in the cheeks. But many facts indicate that other causes than nervous communication produce sympathy.


CONSENT, v.i. [L. See the Noun.]

1. Literally, to think with another. Hence, to agree or accord. More generally, to agree in mind and will; to yield to what one has the power, the right, or the disposition to withhold, or refuse to grant.
  • If sinners entice thee, consent thou not. Proverbs 1.
  • And Saul was consenting to Stephens death. Acts 8.
  • Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us. Genesis 34.
2. To agree.
  • When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst with him. Psalm 1.
3. To assent.
  • I consent to the law that it is good. Romans 7. 1 Timothy 6.
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