How should complainer anonymity for sexual offences be introduced in Scotland? Learning the international lessons of #LetHerSpeak

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Abstract

It is often claimed that complainers in sexual offence cases have an “automatic right to lifelong anonymity in UK law.” While this is true in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – Scots law currently imposes no automatic restrictions on the identification of people who say they have been victims of rape and other sexual offences. Underpinned by a comparative analysis of twenty common law jurisdictions – including Ireland, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – this article considers how complainer anonymity could and should be introduced in Scotland.

This article is in three main parts. The first considers the reasons for granting anonymity to complainers in sexual cases. The second explores how complainer anonymity is realised in the laws of the twenty comparator jurisdictions considered in this study, and the key similarities and differences in their approaches to imposing reporting restrictions. Drawing on the experience of the # LetHerSpeak campaign in Australia, the third section considers critical design choices the Scottish Government faces in legislating for complainer anonymity, including decisions on when a right to anonymity accrues, what offences it applies to, and in what circumstances – and by whom – it can be waived or set aside.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-389
Number of pages35
JournalEdinburgh Law Review
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • contempt of court
  • Scots law
  • comparative law
  • sexual assault
  • reporting standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Law
  • History

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