Accrue Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Accrue, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Accrue?

v. to grow by addition to. It could be the interest that has accumulated on the principal amount. It also means to arise, to happen or to come to pass. eg. one’s right to sue on a contract may only accrue when the contract is breached or when the opposing party repudiates the contract. It may not accrue on the mere suspicion that the contract may be breached.

History and Meaning of Accrue

The term "accrue" has its roots in the Latin word "accrescere," which means "to grow." In a legal context, it refers to the accumulation of interest, compensation, or benefits over time. Specifically, it means that something has been earned or due, but payment or receipt has not yet been made. Therefore, the right to receive the payment or benefit has accrued, but it has not yet been received.

Examples of Accrue

  1. Interest accrued on a savings account that has not been withdrawn.
  2. Salary accrued but not yet paid, at the end of a pay period.
  3. Vacation time that accrues over time, but can only be taken after it has been earned.
  4. Expenses that accrue on a project, which are tracked and eventually billed to the client.
  5. Legal fees that accrue over time in a case, which are billed at regular intervals.

Legal Terms Similar to Accrue

  1. Vest - Similar to accrue, vesting refers to the right to something that has been earned but is not yet received. For example, an employee may have a vested right to their pension plan after a certain number of years of service.
  2. Compensatory damages - These are damages paid to compensate for a loss suffered. Just like interest accrues on a debt, damages can accrue on a claim until it is paid out.
  3. Statute of limitations - This term refers to the time limit under which legal action must be taken. Accrual of a right to sue may be dependent on when the breach occurred or when the plaintiff became aware of the breach.