Acquiescence in Law: Definition & Concept

Instructor: Todd Clifton

Todd Clifton has a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice, has a M.S. degree in Management & Leadership, has a diploma in private investigation, and has helped former criminals reenter free society.

Acquiescence is important to understand when it comes to a party's legal rights. Inaction and silence can be held against someone in certain situations, and protecting one's rights may entail speaking up and taking action. This lesson will cover five key areas to be considered regarding acquiescence in the law.

A furniture store sends a sample of a chair they are about to sell to a chair manufacturer. The legs on the furniture store's chair are similar to the legs that the manufacturer puts on its chairs. The furniture store wants to know if it is okay to use that style of legs. Since the manufacturer was the original designer of that style, this seems like a wise course of action.

The manufacturer sees the chair sample from the furniture store, but does not respond. After sending another sample and asking again if it is okay to use that particular leg style, the furniture store needs to make a decision: should it go ahead and sell chairs with that style of legs? It would likely be determined in a legal ruling (judge's or jury's decision) that the manufacturer acquiesced, and thus consented. To acquiesce is to consent, based on the fact that no objection is made. The furniture store decides to sell the chairs. Later, when the chair manufacturer takes the furniture store to court concerning this matter, the court determines that consent was granted. In other words, the chair manufacturer acquiesced.


There are five key areas to consider in cases involving acquiescence. Those areas are :

  • Remaining silent
  • Knowing legal rights
  • Knowing the other party may act on silence
  • Knowledge of silence
  • Action based from silence

Remaining Silent

In the previous scenario the non-responsiveness of the chair manufacturer can be considered silence. Remaining silent is the act of not responding to a request or action of another. A response will help clarify what is desired by the party remaining silent. However, not responding does indicate what might be desired. It might indicate approval of what the other party wants.

Knowing Legal Rights

The chair manufacturer twice received a message asking for permission to use the chair leg design. The company also received a sample. Therefore, the chair manufacturer must have known that they could have have refused permission. They knew they had the legal right to say 'no'. Knowing legal rights is being aware of the options available that have legal backing.

Knowing The Other Party May Act On Silence

As mentioned previously, a message was sent twice asking for permission to use a design. Clearly, the furniture store wanted to use the design. The chair manufacturer's not responding can be construed as approval. Knowing the other party may act on silence means that the other party may interpret silence as approval, or at least a means to act.

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