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Misfeasance, Malfeasance, and nonfeasance are three different terms. They all fall under the umbrella of “misfeasance in office.”
Misfeasance is doing an act that one has no right to do. Malfeasance is doing a show that one has a right to do but does so improperly or incompetently. Nonfeasance is the failure to perform a duty owed by law or contract.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about these terms. So whenever you’re ready to dive deep into this complicated legalese, keep reading.
Misfeasance: What Is It?
Misfeasance is a term used to describe an act that’s unlawful or illegal. When someone performs an action that breaks the law, they’ve committed misfeasance. This can be anything from not voting in elections (if you’re eligible) to murder and beyond.
Furthermore, the consequences of misfeasance are serious. Someone who commits an act of this nature is accountable for damages that result from the action.
For example, someone might have to pay fines or face incarceration if they’re found guilty in a court of law.
Why Is It Important?
Misfeasance is essential because it’s related to misconduct and nonfeasance. These two other concepts define when one person has failed another. While you may not hear about misfeasance every day, understanding its definition could help you in your legal situation.
Misfeasances are often accidental. While many people commit them intentionally (such as committing voter fraud), they’re not the only ones who do.
For example, say you own a restaurant, and your business is booming. However, one day, it’s discovered that there are cockroaches in every corner of your building.
While this might be an accident on your part (and thus misfeasance), it can also have severe consequences for customers. This is especially true for those who patronize your establishment after the discovery of the infestation.
This is because they could claim to suffer from food poisoning or other illnesses due to being exposed to any bacteria.
What Is Nonfeasance?
Nonfeasance refers to when someone fails to act where another individual would generally expect action. For instance, if someone calls you on the phone and you don’t answer, that’s nonfeasance.
Another example is if a person fails to vote in an election—or even file their taxes after they’ve been due (a prevailing situation). While both examples are pretty straightforward, it can be not very easy when one party expects another to act and has every right to expect them not only to take action but also to do so promptly.
Furthermore, nonfeasance is also known as “inaction” or negligence. When someone’s failure to act results in damage, they are liable for the damages which result from their nonfeasance. Depending on where you live, that person may even face criminal charges.
What Is Malfeasance?
Malfeasance refers to a deliberate action or inaction that results in damage, injury, or other negative consequences for another individual. For example, if a person is found guilty of committing voter fraud—meaning they voted twice (or more)—that’s considered Malfeasance.
This is because the perpetrator knew this was against the law and acted on their own accord without any legal encouragement from others.
In short, it means doing something you know you shouldn’t do even though there are no repercussions for not taking action at all.
Furthermore, misconduct is sometimes an act of commission. This, meaning it’s something you do. Whereas, the omission is something you don’t do—and in some cases, can even be “an intentional tort.” An example of this will be if someone assaults another person on purpose.
When Do These Actions Occur?
While nonfeasance may occur when there isn’t sufficient capacity within your organization’s workforce, most cases of Malfeasance and misfeasance will involve negligence. In other words, when someone fails to act in a situation where they should be expected to.
Even more so, Malfeasance and misfeasance are intentional, even if the action is accidental.
You might also hear about “non-action” or inaction when it comes to nonfeasance. There are times when this can be misconduct since not acting in certain situations would damage others—for instance, failing to respond when someone calls you on the phone.
How Does This Differ From Other Legal Concepts?
While some consider these legal concepts interchangeable, they’re all defined by unique circumstances. Thus should never be used interchangeably.
Malfeasance refers specifically to an act of commission, while nonfeasances refer more so towards an act of omission. Meanwhile, misfeasance is an act of commission (similar to Malfeasance) that also results in damage or harm.
What Happens If You Are Found Guilty?
If you are found guilty of misfeasance (or Malfeasance), your sentence depends mainly upon what it was you did and how much harm resulted from your action.
For instance, if an individual commits voter fraud, they might have to spend time behind bars or pay a hefty fine at worst.
Still, suppose that same person was responsible for food poisoning cases linked to his restaurant. This is because he didn’t take the proper precautions to ensure food safety at his establishment. In that case, he is liable for damages and forced to pay out large sums of money.
In other words, you could face criminal charges if found guilty of Malfeasance or misfeasance. But if your actions were deemed non-action (failure to act) instead, the only repercussions would likely involve paying damages as compensation for any resulting harm.
The penalties are primarily dependent upon the specific circumstance of each case.
How to Pursue Legal Help In These Situations?
If you need help understanding the legal implications of one (or more) of these concepts or if you’d like to pursue a specific course of action, you must consult with an attorney who specializes in this particular area.
It will cost money to hire a lawyer for assistance and representation. But it can be well worth your while depending on what precisely happened and how much harm resulted from the incident.
Furthermore, it can be not easy to pursue legal action without a lawyer, and this process is best left in the hands of professionals. Here are some of the questions you can ask a lawyer to determine whether or not they’re the right fit for your case:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What is your background, and how did you get into this career path?
- What kind of cases do you typically handle (what practice area)?
- How does my situation compare to others like it in terms of complexity level?
- Can I expect a quick turnaround/resolution if we move forward with legal proceedings?
- What are the costs of pursuing legal action, and what will that money work for exactly?
- Who would represent me, and who would work on my behalf (if applicable)?
- Would any experts need to weigh in on the matter before moving forward, such as private investigators or forensic analysts, perhaps?
These are just some examples. By no means is this meant to be concrete in any way. Get in touch with NDandP Misfeasance Claim defence solicitors for any assistance you might need.
How to Prevent These Legal Issues?
The best way to prevent these legal issues is by taking proactive steps. For instance, working with a professional public accountant or financial advisor who can help you stay within budget. Thus, help you avoid unnecessary costs which could lead to Malfeasance.
It will be much cheaper for you in the long run if you do not have to pay fines, back taxes, etc.
Doing so would only result in further economic instability down the line. It could prove problematic for others involved (employees, customers, partners, or suppliers).
However, this kind of financial planning isn’t always the easiest to implement on your own. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t fully understand what is involved, you might consider hiring a professional. They can help make sure everything runs smoothly and according to plan.
When faced with these kinds of issues, you must know precisely where you stand. This is legally speaking, so you can take appropriate action.
It could mean paying out large sums in damages or even time spent behind bars for those found guilty. Either way, it will not bode well for anyone until all parties are satisfied with how things have been resolved moving forward.
Now that you understand the terminology of misfeasance, Malfeasance, and nonfeasance, you are well on your way to ensuring legal well-being.
If you’re interested in learning more about these important legal topics, check out some of the recommended articles on the sidebar or down below.