Define: Accrued Right

Accrued Right
Accrued Right
Quick Summary of Accrued Right

Accrued rights refer to a legal claim or entitlement that has been earned or acquired but has not yet been exercised or realised. It is a legal concept that recognises the right of an individual or entity to receive certain benefits or exercise certain rights based on past actions or events.

Accrued rights can arise in various legal contexts, such as employment, contracts, property, or government benefits. For example, in an employment setting, an employee may have accrued the right to receive certain benefits, such as vacation pay or retirement benefits, based on their length of service or other factors. Similarly, in a contractual relationship, one party may have accrued the right to receive payment or performance of certain obligations based on the terms of the contract.

Accrued rights are typically recognized and protected by law, and failure to honour these rights may result in legal consequences, such as breach of contract or violation of employment laws. However, it is important to note that the specific rights and their accrual may vary depending on the applicable laws and the particular circumstances of each case.

In summary, accrued rights refer to a legal entitlement or claim that has been earned but not yet exercised or realised. It is an important legal concept that recognises and protects the rights of individuals and entities based on past actions or events.

What is the dictionary definition of Accrued Right?
Dictionary Definition of Accrued Right

Accrued Right:


  1. A legal entitlement or claim that has been earned or accumulated over time, typically through the passage of time, the completion of certain conditions, or the fulfilment of contractual obligations.
  2. In finance and accounting, an accrued right refers to an asset or benefit that has been earned but not yet received or realised. It represents an amount that is owed or due to an individual or entity and will be received or recognised in the future.
  3.  Accrued rights can include accrued interest, dividends, wages, bonuses, royalties, or any other form of income or compensation that has been earned but not yet paid or received.
  4. These rights are typically recorded as liabilities on a company’s balance sheet, indicating the obligation to pay or provide the accrued amount in the future.

Example: After working for the company for five years, John has accrued the right to receive a substantial bonus at the end of the fiscal year.

Full Definition Of Accrued Right

Accrued rights are a fundamental concept in various legal systems, particularly within the realms of employment law, contract law, and property law. Understanding accrued rights is crucial for legal professionals, employers, employees, and individuals involved in contractual or property transactions. This overview aims to elucidate the nature, application, and implications of accrued rights within British law, encompassing statutory frameworks, judicial interpretations, and practical examples.

Definition of Accrued Rights

Accrued rights refer to rights that have accumulated or vested over time, rather than arising instantaneously. These rights are typically contingent upon certain conditions or the passage of time and become enforceable once specific criteria are met. In legal terms, an accrued right is a vested interest that a party has earned through the fulfilment of stipulated conditions or obligations.

Accrued Rights in Employment Law

In the context of employment law, accrued rights are particularly significant concerning employee benefits, such as annual leave, pensions, and redundancy payments.

Annual Leave

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employees in the UK are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. This entitlement accrues over the course of an employment year. For example, an employee working for a full year is entitled to the full statutory leave, but if the employment ends mid-year, the leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis. The concept of accrued rights ensures that employees can claim their due leave proportional to the time worked.


Pensions are another critical area where accrued rights play a pivotal role. Under the Pensions Act 2004, employees accrue pension rights based on their contributions and the duration of their service. These rights become vested and enforceable upon reaching retirement age or under other qualifying conditions. Accrued pension rights cannot be unilaterally reduced or revoked by employers, ensuring financial security for retirees.

Redundancy Payments

Redundancy payments, as governed by the Employment Rights Act 1996, also rely on the concept of accrued rights. Employees with a minimum of two years’ continuous service are entitled to statutory redundancy payments. The amount is calculated based on the length of service, age, and weekly pay, ensuring that employees receive compensation proportional to their tenure.

Accrued Rights in Contract Law

In contract law, accrued rights refer to entitlements that a party earns over time as they perform their obligations under a contract. These rights become enforceable once specific milestones or conditions are met.

Performance and Payment

For instance, in construction contracts, a contractor may accrue the right to payment as they complete various stages of the project. The payment schedule is often linked to the completion of milestones, ensuring that the contractor receives compensation proportional to the work completed. Accrued rights protect the contractor from non-payment for work performed in good faith.

Breach of Contract

In cases of breach of contract, accrued rights are also relevant. If one party breaches the contract, the non-breaching party retains the right to claim damages or specific performance for the accrued benefits or obligations up to the point of breach. This ensures that parties are compensated for their contributions and losses.

Accrued Rights in Property Law

Accrued rights in property law often relate to easements, covenants, and other interests that accumulate over time.


An easement is a right that one landowner has over the land of another, such as a right of way. Easements can accrue over time, particularly in cases of prescriptive easements, where continuous and uninterrupted use over a statutory period (usually 20 years) can establish a legal right. Once accrued, these rights become enforceable, providing certainty and stability in property relations.


Covenants, which are promises or restrictions placed on land use, can also accrue over time. For example, a restrictive covenant may limit the use of a property to residential purposes only. Over time, the right to enforce this covenant may pass to successive landowners, accruing as part of the land’s title and becoming enforceable by future owners.

Judicial Interpretation of Accrued Rights

British courts have played a significant role in interpreting and enforcing accrued rights. Judicial decisions provide clarity on the scope and application of these rights, ensuring consistency and fairness.

Key Case Law
  • Eastwood v Magnox Electric plc [2004] UKHL 35: This case established that employees have the right to claim damages for unfair dismissal based on accrued employment rights, even if the dismissal itself was procedurally fair.
  • Inland Revenue Commissioners v Ainsworth [2005] UKHL 53: The House of Lords held that employees on long-term sick leave continued to accrue annual leave entitlement, reinforcing the protection of accrued rights under employment law.
  • Sempra Metals Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners [2007] UKHL 34: This case highlighted the principle that accrued rights to restitution can arise in cases of overpaid taxes, emphasizing the importance of time-based accrual in financial claims.

Statutory Framework and Legislative Developments

Various statutes underpin the concept of accrued rights in British law, providing a legal framework for their recognition and enforcement.

Key Legislation
  • Working Time Regulations 1998: Establishes the accrual of annual leave entitlements for employees.
  • Pensions Act 2004: Governs the accrual and protection of pension rights.
  • Employment Rights Act 1996: Outlines the conditions for redundancy payments and other employment-related benefits.
  • Limitation Act 1980: Sets time limits for the accrual and enforcement of rights in various legal contexts.
Recent Developments

Recent legislative developments and proposals continue to impact accrued rights, reflecting evolving societal and economic conditions.

  • Good Work Plan (2019): Introduced measures to enhance workers’ rights, including the accrual of holiday pay for atypical workers.
  • Pension Schemes Act 2021: Strengthened protections for pension scheme members, ensuring the security of accrued pension rights.

Practical Implications and Considerations

Understanding accrued rights is essential for various stakeholders, including employers, employees, legal practitioners, and policymakers.

For Employers
  • Compliance: Employers must ensure compliance with statutory requirements regarding accrued rights, such as paying out accrued leave upon termination.
  • Policies: Implementing clear policies on the accrual and use of benefits can prevent disputes and ensure fair treatment of employees.
For Employees
  • Awareness: Employees should be aware of their rights to accrued benefits and how to claim them, particularly in cases of termination or retirement.
  • Documentation: Keeping thorough records of employment terms and benefits can support claims for accrued rights.
For Legal Practitioners
  • Advice: Providing accurate advice on accrued rights requires a thorough understanding of relevant statutes, case law, and contractual terms.
  • Dispute Resolution: Effective dispute resolution strategies can help enforce accrued rights and secure fair outcomes for clients.


Accrued rights are a cornerstone of British law, ensuring that individuals and entities can claim entitlements that have accumulated over time. Whether in employment, contract, or property law, these rights provide stability, predictability, and fairness in legal relations. By understanding the statutory frameworks, judicial interpretations, and practical implications, stakeholders can navigate the complexities of accrued rights and ensure their proper recognition and enforcement.

This comprehensive overview highlights the importance of accrued rights across various legal domains, reflecting their integral role in protecting vested interests and promoting equitable outcomes. As legislative developments continue to shape this area of law, staying informed and proactive is essential for safeguarding accrued rights and addressing emerging challenges.

Related Phrases
No related content found.

This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 7th June 2024.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

  • Page URL:
  • Modern Language Association (MLA):Accrued Right. DLS Solicitors. June 12 2024
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):Accrued Right. DLS Solicitors. (accessed: June 12 2024).
  • American Psychological Association (APA):Accrued Right. Retrieved June 12 2024, from website:
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors : Family Law Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

All author posts