Quick Summary of Approvement

Approvement is a legal term that refers to approving or giving consent to something. It is often used in contracts, agreements, or legal documents where one party grants approval to another party for a specific action or decision.

In legal terms, approvement signifies the formal acceptance or authorization of an action, plan, or proposal. It implies that the party granting the approvement has carefully reviewed and considered the matter and has found it satisfactory or acceptable.

Approvement can be expressed explicitly through written consent or implicitly through actions that indicate approval. It is a crucial legal concept because it establishes the parties’ consent and agreement, ensuring that they are subject to the terms and conditions stated in the document.

However, it is crucial to note that approvement does not necessarily imply endorsement or support. It merely signifies that the party granting the approvement has agreed to the action or decision, without necessarily expressing any personal opinion or judgement on the matter.

In summary, approvement is a legal term that denotes granting approval or consent to a specific action or decision. It is a crucial component of contracts and legal documents, ensuring that all parties are subject to the agreed-upon terms and conditions.

What is the dictionary definition of Approvement?
Dictionary Definition of Approvement

Approvement (noun):

1. The act or process of approving or giving consent to something, typically an action, decision, or proposal.
Example: The approvement of the new project by the board of directors was crucial for its implementation.

2. The state or condition of being approved or accepted by others.
Example: The artist’s work received widespread approvement from critics and art enthusiasts.

3. A formal or official recognition or endorsement of something, often granted by an authority or governing body.
Example: The approvement of the building plans by the local council was necessary before construction could begin.

4. The act of expressing agreement or satisfaction with someone’s actions or behaviour.
Example: The teacher’s approvement of the student’s hard work and dedication boosted their confidence.

Note: The term “approvement” is less commonly used compared to its synonym “approval.

Full Definition Of Approvement

Approvement, a legal term with roots deep in English common law, pertains to an accused criminal’s practice of turning king’s evidence in exchange for leniency. This concept is historically significant but largely obsolete today. The practice, its historical context, evolution, and eventual obsolescence provide an intriguing insight into the development of the British legal system. This overview delves into the origins, procedures, implications, and eventual decline of approvement in British law.

Historical Context and Origins

Approvement emerged in medieval England as part of a broader tapestry of criminal justice practices designed to maintain order in a burgeoning legal system. Its origins can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries, a period marked by consolidating royal authority and establishing the common law.

The term ‘approvement’ derives from the Latin ‘approbare’, meaning ‘to approve’ or ‘to prove’. In the legal context, it referred to an accused person who, upon facing serious charges, chose to confess to their crime and, in doing so, implicated accomplices in exchange for a pardon or reduced sentence. This practice was particularly relevant in cases of serious crimes such as treason, murder, and robbery, where the Crown had a vested interest in dismantling criminal networks.

Procedure and Legal Mechanism

The process of approvement was formal and intricate. Upon deciding to become an approver, an accused individual would confess their guilt in open court. This confession was a prerequisite, as the legal system required an admission of guilt before any bargains could be struck. Following the confession, the approver would accuse their accomplices, providing detailed information about their criminal activities.

The next phase involved a rigorous evaluation of the approver’s accusations. The law demanded that the approver’s statements be corroborated by additional evidence or confessions from the implicated parties. This requirement aimed to prevent false accusations and misuse of the practice. If the approver’s information led to the conviction of their accomplices, they could be granted a pardon or a reduced sentence, depending on the severity of their own crime and the value of the information provided.

Implications and Consequences

Approvement had significant implications for both the accused and the legal system. For the accused, it presented a potential path to leniency, especially in cases where the evidence against them was overwhelming. By cooperating with the authorities, an accused person could avoid the harshest penalties, including execution, a common punishment for serious crimes during the medieval period.

For the legal system, approvement was a tool for uncovering and dismantling criminal networks. It provided a means to gain insider information about criminal activities, particularly valuable in an era before modern investigative techniques and forensic science. The practice also highlighted the Crown’s interest in maintaining social order and deterring crime through strategic leniency.

However, approvement was not without its controversies and challenges. The reliance on confessions and accusations from admitted criminals raised concerns about the potential for false accusations and miscarriages of justice. Moreover, the practice could be exploited by those seeking to escape punishment by falsely implicating others.

Evolution and Decline

The use of approvement evolved over the centuries, influenced by broader changes in the legal and social landscape. By the early modern period, the practice began to decline, reflecting shifts in legal philosophy and the development of more sophisticated criminal investigation and prosecution methods.

Several factors contributed to the decline of approvement. The increasing professionalisation of the legal system, with a greater emphasis on evidence and due process, made the practice less attractive and necessary. The development of policing and investigative techniques provided alternative means of gathering evidence and dismantling criminal networks without relying on potentially unreliable confessions.

Moreover, the growing recognition of the potential for miscarriages of justice and the ethical concerns surrounding the use of approvement led to its gradual abandonment. Legal reforms in the 18th and 19th centuries further diminished the role of approvement, as the criminal justice system moved towards a more structured and evidence-based approach.

By the 19th century, approvement had largely faded into obscurity, replaced by more formalised methods of plea bargaining and witness cooperation. The advent of modern policing, forensic science, and legal standards of evidence rendered the medieval practice largely redundant.

Comparative Perspective

To fully appreciate the historical significance of approvement, it is useful to consider its role compared to similar practices in other legal systems. In many respects, approvement can be seen as an early form of what is now known as plea bargaining or turning state’s evidence, practices that are still prevalent in modern legal systems, albeit in more regulated and formalised forms.

In the United States, plea bargaining is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system, allowing defendants to negotiate for reduced sentences in exchange for guilty pleas or cooperation with prosecutors. Similarly, witness protection programs and deals for cooperating witnesses in various jurisdictions around the world echo the principles underlying the practice of approvement, albeit with more safeguards and oversight.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The historical practice of approvement raises important legal and ethical considerations that continue to resonate in contemporary legal debates. One key issue is the balance between the utility of gaining insider information to combat crime and the risk of injustice through false accusations and coerced confessions.

In modern legal systems, the safeguards and procedural protections surrounding plea bargaining and witness cooperation are designed to mitigate these risks. These include the requirement for corroborating evidence, judicial oversight, and the right to legal representation. However, the potential for abuse and the ethical dilemmas inherent in negotiating with accused criminals remain pertinent concerns.

The historical experience of approvement also underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system. Ensuring that practices designed to incentivise cooperation do not undermine the principles of justice and fairness is a critical challenge for legal systems worldwide.


Approvement, as a historical legal practice, offers a fascinating window into the development of the British criminal justice system. Emerging in medieval England, it provided a mechanism for accused criminals to seek leniency by implicating their accomplices, reflecting the Crown’s interest in maintaining order and combating serious crime.

While the practice of approvement has long since declined, its legacy persists in modern legal practices such as plea bargaining and witness cooperation. The evolution of approvement highlights the dynamic nature of legal systems and the ongoing quest to balance the interests of justice, efficiency, and fairness.

Understanding the history and implications of approvement enriches our appreciation of the complexities of the criminal justice system and the ethical challenges it faces. As legal systems continue to evolve, the lessons of the past serve as a valuable guide in navigating the intricate interplay between law, morality, and justice.

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: 11th 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):Approvement. DLS Solicitors. June 23 2024
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):Approvement. DLS Solicitors. (accessed: June 23 2024).
  • American Psychological Association (APA):Approvement. Retrieved June 23 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