R v Olugboja [1982] QB 320

The meaning of consent under amended Sexual Offences Act 1956, s 1


The defendant and the co-accused met the complainant and her friend at a discotheque and offered to take them home. However, the defendant took the complainant to the co-accused’s bungalow. The girls refused to go into the bungalow but, when they walked off, were followed by the co-accused who proceeded to have sexual intercourse with the complainant. Both of the girls were then forced back to the bungalow where the defendant told the complainant that he was going to have sexual intercourse with her. The complainant asked him to leave her alone, but did what he told her.


The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976, s 1 removed the need for sexual intercourse to have taken place as a result of force, fear and fraud from the definition of rape under Sexual Offences Act 1956, s 1. The issue in this judgment was how the new definition of lack of consent on the part of the victim and a lack of reasonable belief in consent contained within the 1976 Act was to be applied.


Although consent is an ordinary, common word, its definition under the 1956 Act should not be entirely left to the jury. This is because consent can range from enthusiastic willingness to reluctant acquiescence. In cases where it is suggested that the sexual intercourse was through force or fear of force, it is unlikely to be necessary to direct the jury beyond explaining the meaning of the word. However, where the issue is less clear the jury should be directed to consider the state of mind of the victim immediately before the act and the events leading up to it.