R v Flattery [1877]

R v Flattery [1877] 2 QBD 410 centred around criminal liability for sexual assault when consent was obtained through fraud, specifically in the context of a pretence of a surgical operation.

The defendant, John Flattery, portrayed himself as a medical doctor and surgeon. A 19-year-old woman, accompanied by her mother, consulted John Flattery for a perceived illness. John Flattery, falsely claiming the necessity of surgery, engaged in sexual intercourse with the young woman under the guise of medical treatment. The prosecution brought charges against John Flattery under the Statute of Westminster 1285, Chapter 34 (alleging rape).

The primary issue revolved around the legal interpretation of whether the complainant's submission to sexual intercourse could be considered as consent. It was argued that although the complainant had submitted to John Flattery's advances, her consent was based on the belief that he was providing medical treatment for her seizures. The court clarified that submission did not amount to legal consent when obtained through fraud. In this case, the complainant had not consented to sexual intercourse with John Flattery but had only consented to medical treatment.

The decision, rendered by Mellor J, stated that the complainant had consented to one thing, but the defendant did another materially different, on which she had been prevented by his fraud from exercising her judgment and will.

Mellor J referred to Chapter 34 of the Statute of Westminster 1285, which defined rape as sexual intercourse that had not been assented to before nor after. The conclusion drawn was that while submission could be construed as consent, it did not apply where consent had been given only for a different action or purpose, in this case, medical treatment and not sexual intercourse.

The appeal was ultimately dismissed, and the conviction was upheld, reinforcing the legal principle that consent obtained through fraud, where the complainant was deceived about the nature of the act, does not constitute lawful consent in cases of sexual assault.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.