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Case details

A Local Authority (Respondent) v JB (by his Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor) (AP) (Appellant)

Case ID: 2020/0133

Case summary


To have capacity to decide to have sexual relations with another person, does a person need to understand that the other person must have the capacity to consent to the sexual activity and must in fact consent before and throughout the sexual activity?


The appellant, JB, is a 37 year-old single man with a complex diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder combined with impaired cognition. JB has expressed a strong desire to have a girlfriend and engage in sexual relations. However, his previous behaviour towards women has led the respondent local authority to conclude that he cannot safely have unsupervised contact with them.

The local authority filed an application in the Court of Protection seeking declarations as to JB’s capacity in various areas, including his capacity to consent to sexual relations. The expert evidence was that JB understands that mechanics of sexual acts and the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, but his "understanding of consent is lacking".

In the Court of Protection, the judge held that it was not necessary for a person to understand the need for their sexual partner’s consent and declared that JB has capacity to consent to sexual relations. The Court of Appeal disagreed. It held that, to have capacity to engage in sexual relations, a person needs to understand that their sexual partner must have the capacity to consent to the sexual activity and must in fact consent before and during the sexual activity. JB appeals to the Supreme Court.

Easy read: Case summary

Judgment appealed

[2020] EWCA Civ 735





A Local Authority



Lord Briggs, Lady Arden, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens, Lady Rose

Hearing start date

15 July 2021

Hearing finish date

15 July 2021

Watch hearing
15 July 2021 Morning session Afternoon session

Judgment details

Judgment date

24 November 2021

Neutral citation

[2021] UKSC 52

  • Judgment (PDF) Please Note: The amendments, which have been approved by Lord Stephens, are as follows:
    - Para 1, line 4, change "to have" to "to having"
    - Para 29, line 4, change "These reports suggests" to "These reports suggest"
    - Para 29, line 7, change "weighs them" to "weighs this"
    - Para 80, line 8, change "(para 105)" to "(see Court of Appeal judgment, para 105)"
    - Para 83, line 7, change "sexual relations that it …" to "sexual relations it …"
    - Para 110, line 26-27, change "(I deal in para 117…" to "(I deal in para 116 …"
    - Para 116, line 10 changed "Each also …" to "Section 30 also …"
    - Para 116, lines 13-14, added, after "other reason).", "other reason) and sections 31-33 have similar provisions".
    - Para 119, line 1, change "The respondent, local authority, argues …" to "The respondent local authority argues …"
    - Para 121, line , change "under section 3(1)(c) MCA JB he should be able to use …" to "under section 3(1)(c) MCA he should be able to use …"
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Reporting Restrictions

A Local Authority (Respondent) v JB (by his Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor) (AP) (Appellant)

Case ID: UKSC 2020/0133

There are strict reporting restrictions in place, because:

THE COURT ORDERED that no one shall publish or reveal the name or address of the Appellant or of the Respondent local authority involved in these proceedings or publish or reveal any information which would be likely to lead to the identification of the Appellant, or of any member of his family or of the Respondent in connection with these proceedings.