Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to malfeasance: misfeasance


The commission of an act that is unequivocally illegal or completely wrongful.

Malfeasance is a comprehensive term used in both civil and Criminal Law to describe any act that is wrongful. It is not a distinct crime or tort, but may be used generally to describe any act that is criminal or that is wrongful and gives rise to, or somehow contributes to, the injury of another person.

Malfeasance is an affirmative act that is illegal or wrongful. In tort law it is distinct from misfeasance, which is an act that is not illegal but is improperly performed. It is also distinct from Nonfeasance, which is a failure to act that results in injury.

The distinctions between malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance have little effect on tort law. Whether a claim of injury is for one or the other, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, that the duty was breached in some way, and that the breach caused injury to the plaintiff. One exception is that under the law of Strict Liability, the plaintiff need not show the absence of due care. The law of strict liability usually is applied to Product Liability cases, where a manufacturer can be held liable for harm done by a product that was harmful when it was placed on the market. In such cases the plaintiff need not show any actual malfeasance on the part of the manufacturer. A mistake is enough to create liability because the law implies that for the sake of public safety, a manufacturer warrants a product's safety when it offers the product for sale.


n. intentionally doing something either legally or morally wrong which one had no right to do. It always involves dishonesty, illegality, or knowingly exceeding authority for improper reasons. Malfeasance is distinguished from "misfeasance," which is committing a wrong or error by mistake, negligence or inadvertence, but not by intentional wrongdoing. Example: a city manager putting his indigent cousin on the city payroll at a wage the manager knows is above that allowed and/or letting him file false time cards is malfeasance; putting his able cousin on the payroll which, unknown to him, is a violation of an anti-nepotism statute is misfeasance. This distinction can apply to corporate officers, public officials, trustees, and others cloaked with responsibility. (See: misfeasance)


noun bad conduct, corruption, deviation from rectitude, ill conduct, illegal action, infringement, injurious action, misbehavior, misdeed, misdoing, misgovernment, mismanagement, overstepping, peccadillo, peccancy, transgression, unjust performmnce, unlawful action, wrongful action, wrongful conduct
Associated concepts: malfeasance in office, malfeasance of a public officer, misconduct, misfeasance, nonfeasance
See also: abuse, blame, conversion, crime, culpability, delict, delinquency, disloyalty, disservice, guilt, knavery, maladministration, misappropriation, misconduct, misdeed, misdemeanor, misprision, misrule, offense, tort, wrong


the doing of a wrongful or illegal act, especially by a public official.

MALFEASANCE, contracts, torts. The unjust performance of some act which the party had no right, or which he had contracted not to do. It differs from misfeasance, (q.v.) and nonfeasance. (q.v.) Vide 1 Chit. Pr. 9; 1 Chit. Pl. 134.

References in periodicals archive ?
Fears about malfeasance may serve to reinforce existing negative racial beliefs as voting rights policies continue to be framed as prominority or anti-white majority policies," the paper states.
Escolango allegedly committed malfeasance by 'maliciously acting' as a duly appointed administrator, the complainants said.
The Bush administration has been even less friendly toward courageous federal employees who expose negligence, incompetence, malfeasance, and corruption, as witnessed in the cases of Sibel Edmonds, Diane Kleiman, Bogdan Dzakovic, Brian Sullivan, and many other whistleblowers.
If the lawyer feels there was malfeasance and it is not practical to pursue recovery due to a lack of recoverable assets, the cost of litigation or other reasons, the loss probably is deductible in the current period.
New Orleans Superintendent Anthony Amato got a boost from the Louisiana state legislature in his efforts to turn around the embattled district that has been plagued by low test scores and charges of financial malfeasance.
These directors would be aggressive in sorting out suspected corporate malfeasance and would not pull any punches when debating issues affecting the future of the commercial enterprise.
If any private corporation had engaged in such patterns of malfeasance, fraud, and megabuck sleight of hand, it would have been punished by its customers, shareholders, and employees long before the government got involved.
conference in Chicago recently believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act will significantly reduce corporate malfeasance.
In this era of corporate greed and malfeasance, it's heartening to see an industry so concerned with both ethics and competitors' vulnerabilities.
With appropriate guidance by a knowledgeable practitioner, errant taxpayers at least can make an attempt to remedy past tax malfeasance.
Sexual malfeasance among the governing elite has always been a surefire cash cow for the comedy business.
Fraud, malfeasance and incompetence cannot be tolerated from our bureaucrats or elected officials.