Queen's Policy Engagement

Law

Reforming Sexual Consent in Northern Ireland: Reflections on ‘Reasonable Belief’

In the second of two Queen's Policy Engagement Briefing Papers, Dr Eithne Dowds situates Northern Ireland’s approach to sexual consent within broader trends towards ‘affirmative models of consent’.

Reforming Sexual Consent in Northern Ireland: Reflections on ‘Reasonable Belief’

In Northern Ireland, establishing the presence or absence of consent is a key factor in determining whether a sexual offence has been committed. The application of the consent threshold becomes even more complicated when the guilt or innocence of a defendant depends on whether their belief in consent was reasonably held.

This paper is a response to a specific proposal in the 2019 Gillen Review into serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland: that the definition as to what constitutes a reasonable belief in consent should be amended so as the jury are now asked to take account of a failure by the defendant to take any steps to ascertain whether the complainant was consenting. The paper also situates Northern Ireland’s approach to sexual consent within broader trends towards ‘affirmative models of consent’.

 

To read or download this Briefing Paperplease click here. 

 

Avatar
Posted by

Dr Eithne Dowds is a lecturer in the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast. Her research intersects the areas of international criminal law, feminist legal theory, sexual offences and children born of sexual violence in conflict. Eithne is particularly interested in feminist strategies in international criminal law and the extent to which developments at the international criminal level might bear relevance to domestic law on sexual offences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *