Sexual offence case reform to be considered by Law Reform Commission

Sexual offence case reform to be considered by Law Reform Commission

Sexual offence case reform to be considered by Law Reform Commission

The State’s expert legal body is to examine the law regarding the inclusion of victims’ sexual history in trials and the high attrition rate in sexual offences cases.

The Law Reform Commission will also probe the legal situation surrounding separate legal representation for complainants in sexual offences cases. The issues form part of a major review of the law on sexual offences, comprising just one of 15 projects the legal research and advisory body will examine in its fifth programme of work, spanning three years.

  • The other projects include:

  • The law around vulnerable adults;
  • Privacy and technology in the digital era;
  • Detention in Garda custody;
  • Caps on damages in personal injuries litigation;
  • Family law and divorce law

The commission said it drew up its work programme after extensive public consultation during 2017 and 2018. It said it received 70 written submissions and had considered 150 proposals, before identifying 15 projects.

These were considered by the Attorney General’s consultative committee and the Oireachtas justice committee before being approved, without modification, by the Government last March.

The commission said that during the public consultation process it received a large number of submissions concerning the need to review specific aspects of sexual offences law and for the consolidation of the law.

“The project will therefore examine the case for reform of certain specific aspects of sexual offences law, including: the definition of rape; sexual history evidence; the high attrition rate in sexual offences cases, and whether procedural and other reforms could have an impact on this; and separate legal representation for complainants,” the commission said.

It said that in relation to consolidating the various pieces of legislation, it noted that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 had provided for significant reform, but that it did not consolidate the law.

The commission said it remained the case that some sexual offences on the statute book date back to the nineteenth century.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he expected to receive soon the report of a review group on issues surrounding witnesses in trials of sexual offences. That group, chaired by Tom O’Malley BL, who is also a member of the commission, was set up in April 2018 following the Belfast rugby rape trial.

The commission said its project would also be informed by its own ongoing project on knowledge and belief as to consent in rape law. The expert body said it expected to publish Issues Papers on two of the projects by the end of the year: the first on adult safeguarding and the second on caps on damages.

It said the Department of Health had made detailed submissions to it requesting the commission examine the legal issues around vulnerable and at-risk adults. The commission said previous work it did, back in 2006, was reflected in the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which it pointed out had not yet been fully commenced.

More on this topic

'It’s not your fault': Consent campaign targets college students ahead of Fresher's Week'It’s not your fault': Consent campaign targets college students ahead of Fresher's Week

327 court cases involving sexual defilement of a child in the past decade327 court cases involving sexual defilement of a child in the past decade

Viewing porn does not cause sexual aggressiveness in teenage boys, Irish study findsViewing porn does not cause sexual aggressiveness in teenage boys, Irish study finds

Cork Sexual Violence Centre seeing more women assaulted while on holidayCork Sexual Violence Centre seeing more women assaulted while on holiday


More in this Section

NI mother prosecuted for buying abortion pills for teen daughter is formally acquittedNI mother prosecuted for buying abortion pills for teen daughter is formally acquitted

Trolley watch figure rises above 550Trolley watch figure rises above 550

Boy, 11, whose service dog won award now fighting cancerBoy, 11, whose service dog won award now fighting cancer

Report reveals rise in number of young children suffering from anorexiaReport reveals rise in number of young children suffering from anorexia


Lifestyle

Antibiotics will not speed up recovery from a viral infection and can make the child feel worse, says Dr Phil KieranBattling bacteria: The pros and cons of giving antibiotics to children

I had to turn off Dublin Murders with 15 minutes to go. We were watching the first episode because I had to review it the following day for the Today Show on RTÉ.Learner Dad: 'I like to see myself as relaxed but I’m obviously bottling up a fair few anxieties'

Purchasing a thatched cottage was a decision that would change Liam Broderick’s life. Kya deLongchamps meets the long-time thatcherMade in Munster: Meet Cork thatcher Liam Broderick

We take a trip back through the Wolves singer’s most major fashion moments.As Selena Gomez surprises fans with new music, these are some of her best style moments

More From The Irish Examiner