QLS backs review of consent laws by Qld Law Reform Commission

Media release - 10 July 2019

Queensland Law Society has welcomed the government’s decision to refer controversial sexual consent laws to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) for review – but says the retention of an individual’s right to lead a "mistaken belief" defense must be maintained.

Society President Bill Potts on Wednesday (July 10) supported Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath and Minster for Women Di Farmer’s announcement they had referred the matter of consent in rape and sexual assault cases to the QLRC for revision.

The decision comes almost a year after a QLS campaign – championed by the Society’s Criminal Law Committee – arguing that while the legal profession did not believe there was any compelling evidence to change the laws, it supported any QLRC review.

"While we are not aware of compelling evidence to change the existing provisions, QLS is supportive of a reference being made to the QLRC for a proper examination of the issue," Mr Potts said in a letter to Ms D’Ath earlier this week.

He said the QLRC was best placed to provide informed, evidence-based advice on this important issue.

"We don't accept that a 'mistaken fact' defense is easy to make out and it's certainly not a get out of jail free excuse … but nevertheless, a discussion and evidence-based response from the QLRC is a welcome development," Mr Potts said today.

"We support an objective review of the laws to determine if they are still effective and responsive to community standards.''

He said the Society remained ready and willing to engage with QLRC and government agencies on this topic and would welcome any further consultation.

"I am particularly keen the public discourse and any assessment of our existing laws is evidence-led," he said.