UCL Faculty of Laws


Valid Consent and Third-Party Coercion

07 May 2019, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

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2019 UCL Colloquium in Law, Politics & Philosophy series event

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UCL Laws Events


UCL Laws - room LG17
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens


This event is part of the 2019 UCL Colloquium in Law, Politics & Philosophy. The paper will be pre-circulated prior to the session, please read it in advance. To receive the paper, please email jeffrey.howard@ucl.ac.uk.


Dr Mollie Gerver is an Assistant Professor in Political Theory at the University of Essex, and the author of The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation (Edinburgh University Press). Her research focuses on what types of immigration control are justified. For example, she considers whether states act ethically in paying refugees to repatriate, or deporting refugees no longer requiring asylum. Prior to working at Essex, she was an Assistant Professor at Newcastle University, and completed her PhD at the London School of Economics in August 2016.


In this article, I consider the question of third party coercion arising when X wrongly threatens to harm Y unless she consents to Z’s offer to ϕ. I first reject the commonly held view that, when individuals consent under conditions of coercion from third parties, the third party’s coercion necessarily invalidates consent. Sometimes such consent is valid. I then demonstrate that, when an individual’s consent is invalid and they are coerced by a third party, the third party’s coercion is often insufficient to invalidate the consent. More specifically, there are cases where the third party’s coercion only invalidates consent if the agent obtaining consent fails to provide choices which she has a duty to provide. Finally, I argue that there are a sub-set of cases where third party coercion really is sufficient to invalidate consent: it is sufficient when the coercion weakens the will of the agent giving consent, such that he is not engaging in a genuine choice.

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