Centre for Criminal Law


Deception, Consent to Sex, and R v Lawrance (Part 2)

6 August 2020

A blog by Dr Mark Dsouza, Deputy Director, UCL Centre for Criminal Law

Mark DSouza

In Part 1 of this blog post, I argued that the doctrinal logic in the CACD’s recent judgment in R v Lawrance [2020] EWCA Crim 971 was seriously flawed, and that its ruling on which deceptions vitiate consent to sex is therefore dubious. In this Part, I suggest that we replace the CACD’s rule with a ‘Disjunctive Approach’ to deciding when false premises vitiate consent. I argue that this Disjunctive Approach adequately protects sexual autonomy in a manner that is compatible with the words of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the ‘SOA’) and the liability outcomes of (the vast majority of) the cases applying it.

*This post is written with a lay and student audience in mind. My thanks to David Ormerod for his comments/suggestions. Any errors that remain are mine.*