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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to new figures released by India's finance minister, the number of wilful defaulters at nationalised banks has increased by over 60 percent to 8,582 in five years to March 2019.
Irked over the denial of information on the disclosure of the names of wilful defaulters who have taken bank loans of Rs 50 crore and above by the RBI in spite of a Supreme Court order, the CIC has asked Patel to explain why a maximum penalty be not imposed on him for "dishonouring" the verdict which had upheld a decision taken by then Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.
New Delhi [India], Nov 5 ( ANI ): Central Information Commissioner (CIC) M Sridhar Acharyulu on Monday asserted that the Supreme Court has already rejected the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) objections against releasing the names of wilful defaulters, due to which the RBI is duty-bound to reply to the Right to Information (RTI) filed in this regard.
He directed the ministries and the RBI to provide the information about action taken against wilful defaulters of Rs 50 crore and above, reasons for the failure in their efforts, criminal actions initiated, or reasons for not initiating criminal actions.
Police defended holding the two Iranians, arguing that it was the best option."We would not perceive such a line of action as a wilful, or deliberate disobedience of court orders.
We are the overall on wilful were The 66-year-old challenged his convictions at the Court of Appeal in London.
Big wilful defaulters numbering 8,167 owe public sector banks a whopping Rs 76,685 crore as of March- end this year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.
(98.) Restatement (Second) of Torts index wanton or wilful
A MAN arrested in Foleshill on suspicion of wilful neglect of a child has been released from bail without charge.
Callender, Wilful Ignorance, Knowledge, and the "Equal Culpability" Thesis: A Study of the Deeper Significance of the Principle of Legality, 1994 WIS.
The accused found involved in wilful default of the loan facility during initial inquiry, the statement further said.