DEFINITION of 'Nonfeasance'

Failing to execute or perform an act or duty required by position/office or law that results in harm or damage to a person or property. The perpetrator can be found liable and subject to prosecution.

For example, if a daycare provider is employed to supervise children and s/he fails to prevent a child from climbing out on a window ledge from which the child falls, the daycare provider could be found liable of nonfeasance because it was her contracted duty to watch and protect the child from harm and she failed to take action when necessary.

BREAKING DOWN 'Nonfeasance'

Nonfeasance is different than malfeasance, which is the undertaking of an illegal or wrongful act. It also difference from misfeasance, which is legal action performed improperly.
While nonfeasance – the absence of action to help prevent harm or damage – was not originally subject to penalty of law, legal reforms evolved to make it possible for courts to use the term to describe inaction which assigns liability.

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