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Intentional; not accidental; voluntary; designed.

There is no precise definition of the term willful because its meaning largely depends on the context in which it appears. It generally signifies a sense of the intentional as opposed to the inadvertent, the deliberate as opposed to the unplanned, and the voluntary as opposed to the compelled. After centuries of court cases, it has no single meaning, whether as an adjective (willful) or an adverb (willfully).

Statutes and case law have adapted the term willful to the particular circumstances of action and inaction peculiar to specific areas of the law, including tort law, criminal law, workers' compensation, and Unemployment Compensation. A willful violation, for example, may mean a deliberate intent to violate the law, an intent to perform an act that the law forbids, an intent to refrain from performing an act that the law requires, an indifference to whether or not action or inaction violates the law, or some other variant.

In criminal-law statutes, willfully ordinarily means with a bad purpose or criminal intent, particularly if the proscribed act is mala in se (an evil in itself, intrinsically wrong) or involves moral turpitude. For example, willful murder is the unlawful killing of another individual without any excuse or Mitigating Circumstances. If the forbidden act is not wrong in itself, such as driving over the speed limit, willfully is used to mean intentionally, purposefully, or knowingly.

Under workers' compensation acts, willful misconduct by an employee means that he intentionally performed an act with the knowledge that it was likely to result in serious injuries or with reckless disregard of its probable consequences. A finding of "willful misconduct" prevents the employee from being awarded compensation for his injuries.

Under unemployment compensation laws, an employee who is fired on willful misconduct grounds is not entitled to recover unemployment compensation benefits. Common examples of such willful misconduct include excessive absenteeism, habitual lateness, deliberate violations of an employer's rules and regulations, reporting for work in an intoxicated condition, and drinking alcoholic beverages while on the job.


adj. referring to acts which are intentional, conscious, and directed toward achieving a purpose. Some willful conduct which has wrongful or unfortunate results is considered "hardheaded," "stubborn" and even "malicious." Example: "The defendant's attack on his neighbor was willful." (See: willfully)


adjective conscious, contemplated, deliberate, designed, inflexible, intended, intentional, intractable, intransigent, obdurate, obstinate, obstinatus, pertinax, planned, premeditated, purposed, purposeful, restive, retractory, studied, tenacious, uncompromising, unconstrained, unyielding, volitional, volitive, voluntary
Associated concepts: willful acts
See also: arbitrary and capricious, deliberate, disobedient, express, froward, inexorable, inflexible, intentional, intractable, obdurate, pertinacious, premeditated, recalcitrant, restive, spontaneous, unbending, uncontrollable, unruly, unyielding, voluntary
References in periodicals archive ?
Jaitley was replying to a question on SBI declaring industrialist Vijay Mallya a ' wilful defaulter' for not paying nearly ` 7,000 crore loans granted to his now- defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
One is probably that the patients involved were of sound mind, so they would not come under wilful neglect.
Of the nurses already charged, Cahill, of Heol Traharne, Coytrahen, near Bridgend, and Bertulano, 44, of Litchard Cross, Bridgend, each face six counts of wilful neglect.
There is no intentional, wilful, or reckless disregard of the Act.
State Bank of India (NSE: SBI), considered to be the biggest bank in India, and its five associate banks, had a wilful defaulter list of about 1,628 people who owe INR168.
The Kingfisher Airlines along with its directors and former directors had filed a writ petition against the UBI and others, challenging the constitutional validity of the RBI Master Circular on Wilful Defaulters as well as challenging the ex- parte decision of the Grievance Redressal Committee constituted by the UBI declaring the petitioners wilful defaulters.
TWO nurses from the Princess of Wales Hospital have been charged with wilful neglect as part of a police investigation into the alleged falsification of patient notes.
Two police officers were yesterday charged with wilful misconduct following the death of a man in custody.
Thus, under a clause providing for a commission only upon closing, except upon the seller's wilful default, the seller is free to negotiate with other prospective purchasers without incurring liability for a commission until a formal contract is executed.
LIQUOR baron Vijay Mallya is in for more trouble as IDBI Bank is poised to declare him a wilful defaulter over the ` 750 crore in unpaid dues of grounded Kingfisher Airlines.
Global Banking News-August 12, 2014--Indian banks urged to declare Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulter
In previous columns we cautioned brokers of the problems in signing an agreement that contains a wilful default clause.