NSW law reform report misses chance to institute ‘yes means yes’ in sexual consent cases

Jonathan Crowe, Rachael Burgin

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


The New South Wales Law Reform Commission has released its recommendations for reform of the state’s sexual consent laws.

After a process lasting more than two-and-a-half years, the report is a disappointment to survivors and advocates seeking comprehensive reforms.

The review was sparked by the advocacy of Saxon Mullins, the complainant in the high-profile rape case of Luke Lazarus.

A jury found Lazarus guilty of rape in 2015, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. He was then acquitted in a judge-only trial. An appeal court found a legal error in the judge’s reasoning, but ruled it would be “oppressive” for Lazarus to face a third trial.

The Lazarus case highlighted the complexity of consent law in NSW after two trial judges applied the law incorrectly. However, the Law Reform Commission report fails to address the main concerns raised by the case.

Importantly, the reforms would not require defendants to try to find out whether a person wants to have sex before claiming they believed the person consented. This undermines attempts to enshrine affirmative consent in NSW law.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


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