"R v R (1991)" is a landmark case in English law, particularly in the area of criminal and family law. It fundamentally changed the legal understanding of marital rape in the UK. Here's a detailed summary:
- Date: 1991
- Parties: The case involved a married couple, referred to in legal documents as R (the husband) and his wife.
- Context: The case arose at a time when the legal exemption for marital rape was still generally accepted in English law.
- Incident: The case involved an allegation of rape made by a wife against her husband. The couple was estranged at the time of the incident.
- Previous Legal Position: Prior to this case, it was a long-standing common law principle that a husband could not be guilty of raping his wife. This was based on the doctrine that a wife gave implied consent to sexual intercourse with her husband upon entering into marriage.
- Charges and Trial: The husband was charged with attempted rape. The case reached the House of Lords, which was then the highest court in the UK.
- Decision: The House of Lords unanimously ruled that the marital rape exemption was no longer law in England and Wales.
- Reasoning: The Lords held that the long-standing common law principle was an outdated and offensive legal fiction, and that marriage did not give a husband the right to have forced sexual intercourse with his wife against her will.
- Legal Principle Established: The case established that a husband could be guilty of the rape of his wife, effectively abolishing the marital rape exemption in English law.
Legacy and Importance
- Impact on Legal and Social Views: "R v R" was a pivotal moment in the legal recognition of marital rape, reflecting and promoting a shift in societal attitudes towards marriage and consent.
- Global Influence: The case had a significant influence on the law of other jurisdictions, leading to changes in laws related to marital rape around the world.
- Educational Significance: The case is widely studied in law schools and is important for understanding developments in criminal law, family law, and human rights.
"R v R (1991)" marked a fundamental shift in the legal understanding of consent and marital relations in the UK, emphasizing the autonomy and rights of individuals within a marriage.