AskDefine | Define deference

Dictionary Definition



1 a courteous expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regard; "his deference to her wishes was very flattering"; "be sure to give my respects to the dean" [syn: respect]
2 courteous regard for people's feelings; "in deference to your wishes"; "out of respect for his privacy" [syn: respect, respectfulness]
3 a disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others [syn: complaisance, compliance, compliancy, obligingness]

User Contributed Dictionary



dEf3:r\3:ns (SAMPA)


  1. Great respect.
    "The children treated their elders with deference."
  2. The willingness to carry out the wishes of others.
    "By tidying his room, he showed deference to his mother."


Great respect
The willingness to carry out the wishes of others


Extensive Definition

Deference denotes the extent to which a court respects the authority or validity of a government act or decision during the process of judicial review. If the court exhibits less deference, this may contribute to a finding that the government acted ultra vires, or beyond its power.
Influencing factors include:
  • The nature of the decision (poly-centric, human rights and/or individual liberties usually attract less deference or more scrutiny).
  • Decisions which impact on individuals attract more scrutiny
  • If the decision makers have a higher level of skill or expertise in the area in question, the court will pay greater deference to their decision.
  • If the decision involves a factual, as apposed to legal inquiry, a court will pay higher deference to the decision.
  • If there are other controls on the decision makers, there will also be less judicial scrutiny (e.g. ombudsmen, auditors). Also if the decision making body is democratically elected there is less scrutiny due, because decision makers are 'controlled' by their electors.

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