Assent vs. Consent

In legal English, consent and assent are often used interchangeably. There is a subtle difference though.

The term assent connotes a positive and voluntary agreement both as a noun and a verb.

“Assent to a proposal of marriage.”

The term consent is neutral in connotation and can apply even when the agreement is given reluctantly.

“The employee consented to the non-compete clause being included in her employment agreement.”

Gregory M. Poehler, B.A., J.D. Born: Boston, MA (USA). Admitted to the New York and Massachusetts Bars and the United States Federal Courts for the Southern District of New York and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Practiced in two large law firms in New York City with a specialization in intellectual property law, including trademark, copyright and patent litigation and domain name dispute resolution. Masters in European Intellectual Property Law, Stockholm University (2006). LANGUAGES: ENGLISH, SWEDISH

This Post Has One Comment

  1. patti

    In the health care arena assent and consent have entirely different meanings than the listed legal definitions.

    ASSENT – a minor cosigning for medical treatment, giving permission but since he/she is not of legal age there still requires “consent signature” of adult who has custody of minor/parent or guardian.

    CONSENT – agree to medical treatment

    Many medical providers are encouraging children and youth with long term health issues to be more proactive in their health care decisions. By co-signing, the young person is “saying” I understand what is happening and agree to it. It does not prevent treatment if the adult has consented – but it sure makes a HUGE difference in patient engagement.

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