Key provision criminalising sexual acts with children deemed unconstitutional

Supreme Court ruled that proving the ‘reasonable mistake’ defence as to the age of a complainant cannot be constitutionally justified

The Supreme Court said in an era when young adults are much more sexually active than in the past, a “genuine mistake is a realistic rather than a remote possibility” if the parties were not known to each other. Picture: Getty

A key provision in a law which criminalises sexual acts with a child has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The seven-judge court unanimously ruled that proving the “reasonable mistake” defence as to the age of a complainant on the balance of probabilities cannot be constitutionally justified.

This provision is contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006. The judges dismissed the appeal, which had been launched by State against a High Court ...