In common speech, consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to
the proposal or desires of another. The concept of consent has been
operationalized in several major contexts, including in law, medicine
and sexual relationships. Types of consent include implied consent,
expressed consent, informed consent and unanimous consent.
understood in legal contexts may differ from the everyday meaning. For
example, a person with a mental disorder, one with a low mental age or
one under the legal age of sexual consent may willingly engage in a
sexual act, but that consent is not valid in a legal context. UN
agencies and initiatives in sex education programs believe that
teaching the topic of consent as part of a comprehensive sexuality
education is beneficial.
4 Planning law
5 Sexual activity
6 See also
Implied consent is a form of consent which is not expressly granted by
a person, but rather inferred from a person's actions and the facts
and circumstances of a particular situation (or in some cases, by a
person's silence or inaction). Some examples include implied consent
to follow rules and/or regulations at an education institution.
Expressed consent is clearly and unmistakably stated, rather than
implied. It may be given in writing, by speech (orally), or
non-verbally, e.g. by a clear gesture such as a nod. Non-written
express consent not evidenced by witnesses or an audio or video
recording may be disputed if a party denies that it was given.
Informed consent in medicine is consent given by a person who has a
clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and
future consequences of an action. The term is also used in other
Unanimous consent, or general consent, by a group of several parties
(e.g., an association) is consent given by all parties.
Substituted consent, or the substituted judgment doctrine, allows a
decision maker to attempt to establish the decision an incompetent
person would have made if he or she were competent.
Main article: Tort
Consent can be either expressed or implied. For example, participation
in a contact sport usually implies consent to a degree of contact with
other participants, implicitly agreed and often defined by the rules
of the sport. Another specific example is where a boxer cannot
complain of being punched on the nose by an opponent; implied consent
will be valid where the violence is ordinarily and reasonably to be
contemplated as incidental to the sport in question. Express
consent exists when there is oral or written agreement, particularly
in a contract. For example, businesses may require that persons sign a
waiver (called a liability waiver) acknowledging and accepting the
hazards of an activity. This proves express consent, and prevents the
person from filing a tort lawsuit for unauthorised actions.
In English law, the principle of volenti non fit injuria applies not
only to participants in sport, but also to spectators and to any
others who willingly engage in activities where there is a risk of
Consent has also been used as a defense in cases involving
accidental deaths during sex, which occur during sexual bondage. Time
(May 23, 1988) referred to this latter example, as the "rough-sex
defense". It is not effective in
English law in cases of serious
injury or death.
As a term of jurisprudence prior provision of consent signifies a
possible defence (an excuse or justification) against civil or
criminal liability. Defendants who use this defense are arguing that
they should not be held liable for a tort or a crime, since the
actions in question took place with the plaintiff or "victim's" prior
consent and permission.
See also: Informed consent
The question of consent is important in medical law. For example, a
medical practitioner may be liable for harm to a patient by a
procedure which was not consented to. There are exemptions, such as
when the patient is unable to give consent.
Also, a medical practitioner must explain the significant risks of a
procedure (those that might change the patient's mind about whether or
not to have it) before the patient can give binding consent. This was
explored in Australia in Rogers v Whitaker. If a practitioner does
not explain a material risk that subsequently eventuates, then that is
considered negligent. These material risks include the loss of
chance of a better result if a more experienced surgeon had performed
the procedure. In the UK, a
Supreme Court judgment modernised
the law on consent and introduced a patient-focused test to UK law:
allowing the patient rather than the medical professionals to decide
upon the level of risk they wish to take in terms of a particular
course of action, given all the information available. This change
reflects the Guidance of the General Medical Council on the
requirement to consent patients, and removes the rule of medical
Some countries, such as
New Zealand with its Resource Management Act
and its Building Act, use the term "consent" for the legal process
that provide planning permission for developments like subdivisions,
bridges or buildings. Achieving permission results in getting
"Resource consent" or "Building consent".
Rape § Consent, and
Consent (criminal law)
In Canada "consent means…the voluntary agreement of the complainant
to engage in sexual activity" without abuse or exploitation of "trust,
power or authority", coercion or threats.
Consent can also be
revoked at any moment.
Sexual consent plays an important role in defining what sexual assault
is, since sexual activity without consent by all parties is considered
rape. In the late 1980s, academic Lois Pineau argued that we
must move towards a more communicative model of sexuality so that
consent becomes more explicit and clear, objective and layered, with a
more comprehensive model than "no means no" or "yes means yes".
Since the late 1990s, new models of sexual consent have been proposed.
Specifically, the development of "yes means yes" and affirmative
models, such as Hall's definition: "the voluntary approval of what is
done or proposed by another; permission; agreement in opinion or
sentiment." Hickman and Muehlenhard state that consent should be
"free verbal or nonverbal communication of a feeling of willingness'
to engage in sexual activity." Affirmative consent may still be
limited since the underlying, individual circumstances surrounding the
consent cannot always be acknowledged in the "yes means yes", or in
the "no means no", model.
Some individuals are unable to give consent. Children or minors below
a certain age, the age of sexual consent in that jurisdiction, are
deemed not able to give valid consent by law to sexual acts. Likewise,
Alzheimer's disease or similar disabilities may be unable
to give legal consent to sexual relations even with their spouse.
Within literature, definitions surrounding consent and how it should
be communicated have been contradictory, limited or without
consensus. Roffee argued that legal definition needs to be
universal, so as to avoid confusion in legal decisions. He also
demonstrated how the moral notion of consent does not always align
with the legal concept. For example, some adult siblings or other
family members may voluntarily enter into a relationship, however the
legal system still deems this as incestual, and therefore a crime.
Roffee argues that the use of particular language in the legislation
regarding these familial sexual activities manipulates the reader to
view it as immoral and criminal, even if all parties are
consenting. Similarly, some children under the legal age of
consent may knowingly and willingly choose to be in a sexual
relationship. However the law does not view this as legitimate. Whilst
there is a necessity for an age of consent, it does not allow for
varying levels of awareness and maturity. Here it can be seen how a
moral and a legal understanding do not always align.
Initiatives in sex education programs are working towards including
and foregrounding topics of and discussions of sexual consent, in
primary, high school and college Sex Ed curricula. In the UK, the
Personal Social Health and Economic
Education Association (PSHEA) is
working to produce and introduce Sex Ed lesson plans in British
schools that include lessons on "consensual sexual relationships,"
"the meaning and importance of consent" as well as "rape myths".
In U.S., California-Berkeley University has implemented affirmative
and continual consent in education and in the school’s policies.
In Canada, the Ontario government has introduced a revised Sex Ed
curriculum to Toronto schools, including new discussions of sex and
affirmative consent, healthy relationships and communication.
Affirmative consent (enthusiastic yes) is when both parties agree to
sexual conduct, either through clear, verbal communication or
nonverbal cues or gestures. It involves communication and the
active participation of people involved. This is the approach endorsed
by colleges and universities in the U.S., who describe consent as
an "affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each
participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity."
According to Yoon-Hendricks, a staff writer for Sex, Etc., "Instead of
saying 'no means no,' 'yes means yes' looks at sex as a positive
thing." Ongoing consent is sought at all levels of sexual intimacy
regardless of the parties' relationship, prior sexual history or
current activity ("Grinding on the dance floor is not consent for
further sexual activity," a university policy reads). By
definition, affirmative consent cannot be given if a person is
intoxicated, unconscious or asleep.
There are 3 pillars often included in the description of sexual
consent, or "the way we let others know what we're up for, be it a
good-night kiss or the moments leading up to sex."
Knowing exactly what and how much I'm agreeing to
Expressing my intent to participate
Deciding freely and voluntarily to participate
To obtain affirmative consent, rather than waiting to say or for a
partner to say "no", one gives and seeks an explicit "yes". This can
come in the form of a smile, a nod or a verbal yes, as long as it's
unambiguous, enthusiastic and ongoing. "There's varying language, but
the language gets to the core of people having to communicate their
affirmation to participate in sexual behavior," said Denice Labertew
of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "It requires a
fundamental shift in how we think about sexual assault. It's requiring
us to say women and men should be mutually agreeing and actively
participating in sexual behavior."
Age of consent
Assumption of risk
Consent of the governed
Saverland v Newton
Sociocracy (decision-making by consent)
Volenti non fit injuria
^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". www.oed.com. Retrieved
^ International technical guidance on sexuality education: An
evidence-informed approach (PDF). Paris: UNESCO. 2018. p. 56.
^ a b Garner, Bryan (2011). Black's
Law Dictionary. West Publishing
Co. p. 726.
^ Example of permitted and regulated contact in sport - BBC Sport:
Rugby Union: "... you can tackle an opponent in order to get the ball,
as long as you stay within the rules."
^ Pallante v Stadiums Pty Ltd (No 1)  VicRp 29,  VR 331 at
Supreme Court (Vic, Australia).
^ Rogers v Whitaker  HCA 58, (1992) 175 CLR 479, High Court
Chester v Afshar
Chester v Afshar  UKHL 41,  1 AC 134, House of Lords
^ Chappel v Hart  HCA 55, (1998) 195 CLR 232, High Court
^ Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board  UKSC 11,  AC
Supreme Court (UK).
Supreme Court decision changes doctor-patient relationship forever
- Balfour+Manson". www.balfour-manson.co.uk.
^ Criminal Code, Canadian (2015). "'Canadian Criminal Code'".
Retrieved March 13, 2015.
^ a b Hall, David S. (10 August 1998). "'
Consent for Sexual Behavior
in a College Student Population'". Electronic Journal of Human
^ a b c "Roffee James A., 'When Yes Actually Means Yes: Confusing
Messages and Criminalising Consent' in
Rape Justice: Beyond the
Law eds. Powell A., Henry N., and Flynn A., Palgrave,
^ a b Beres. A, Melanie (18 January 2007). "'Spontaneous' Sexual
Consent: An Analysis of Sexual
Psychology. 17 (93): 93. doi:10.1177/0959353507072914.
^ Pineau, Lois (1989). "'Date Rape: A Feminist Analysis'".
Philosophy. 8 (217).
^ Hickman, S.E. and Muehlenhard, C.L. (1999) '"By the Semi-mystical
Appearance of a Condom": How Young Women and Men Communicate Sexual
Consent in Heterosexual Situations', The Journal of Sex Research 36:
^ Pam Belluck (April 22, 2015). "Iowa Man Found Not Guilty of Sexually
Abusing Wife With Alzheimer's". The New York Times. Retrieved April
^ "No Consensus on Incest? Criminalisation and Compatibility with the
European Convention on Human Rights". Human
Law Review. 14:
^ "The Synthetic Necessary
Truth Behind New Labour's Criminalisation
of Incest". Social & Legal Studies. 23: 113–130.
^ "Roffee, James (2015). When Yes Actually Means Yes in
72 - 91". Archived from the original on 2017-02-02.
^ Rawlinson, Kevin (9 March 2015). "'Plans for sexual consent lessons
in schools 'do not go far enough". Retrieved March 13, 2015.
^ Grinberg, E. (29 September 2014). "'Enthusiastic yes in sex consent
education'". Retrieved March 13, 2015.
^ Rushowy, Kristin (25 February 2015). "'In Ontario sex ed, consent
the hot issue'". Retrieved March 10, 2015.
^ a b c d e Grinberg, E. (29 September 2014). "'Enthusiastic yes in
sex consent education'". Retrieved March 10, 2015.
^ "...affirmative consent standards have been adopted at colleges
across the nation, including every ivy league university except
Harvard. "Affirmative consent: A primer" Christine Emba Washington
Post Oct 12 2015
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Invasion of privacy
Breach of confidence
Abuse of process
Alienation of affections
Restraint of trade
Rylands v. Fletcher
Duty of care
Standard of care
Res ipsa loquitur
Calculus of negligence
Duty to rescue
Specific types of negligence
Negligent infliction of emotional distress
Duty to visitors
Comparative and contributory negligence
Last clear chance
Small penis rule
Volenti non fit injuria
Ex turpi causa non oritur actio
Ethics of care
Good and evil
Suffering or Pain
Augustine of Hippo
Georg W. F. Hegel
John Stuart Mill
G. E. Moore
J. L. Mackie
G. E. M. Anscombe
R. M. Hare
Robert Merrihew Adams
Ethics of eating meat
Ethics of technology
Ethics in religion
History of ethics
Philosophy of law
Epic poetry/National epics/Pan-national epics
Facts and factoids
Point of view
School of thought
Theory of everything
Self-fulfilling prophecy (
Clever Hans effect, placebo effect, wishful
Change and maintenance
Argumentum ad populum
Education (religious, values)
Religious conversion (forced)
Suppression of dissent
Anthropology (cultural, social)
Identity (philosophy) (cultural)
Myth and ritual
Rites of passage (secular)
Social class/Social status/Caste
Collective behavior (animal)
Folie à deux
Mass psychogenic illness
Social facilitation (animal)
Axioms (tacit assumptions)
Evidence (anecdotal, scientific)
Reasoning (fallacious, logic)
Truth (consensus theory, criteria)
Consciousness (mind–body problem)
Origin myths (political myths)
Otherworlds (axes mundi)
Problem of evil
Physics (natural philosophy)
Codes of conduct
Ecstasy (emotional, religious)
Food and drink prohibitions
Food and drink prohibitions (unclean animals)
Laws (jurisprudence, religious)
Liberty (political freedom)
Meaning of life
Virtues and Vices
Works of art
African traditional religions
Chinese traditional religions
Schools of philosophy