On 22nd October 2021 the Court of Appeal overturned a decision in the Court of Protection which many were concerned would imply a “human right” to buy sex. The case: Re C was considered by three judges, led by the Lord Chief Justice, who examined whether care workers would be committing a criminal offence if they procured sexual services from a woman in prostitution for a man who lacked capacity.
Anthony Metzer QC and Dr Charlotte Proudman were instructed by The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) who acted for two women’s organisations working with women in, or at risk of exploitation, in prostitution, nia and Women@thewell. They were intervenors in the appeal.
The Court of Appeal noted significantly that:
“It is an undoubted fact that many of those working as prostitutes have been exploited, for example as victims of modern slavery or trafficked to the United Kingdom. It is the regular experience of the courts to come across such cases in both the criminal and immigration contexts. Interveners before this court (charities called Nia and women@thewell) attest to its prevalence. It is irrelevant to liability under this section whether a defendant knew or had reason to believe that the prostitute in question had been exploited. …. Based on the arrangements contemplated there would necessarily be a risk that both C and his carers might commit an offence under section 53A.”
The issue highlighted in their submissions and the evidence of their clients was not simply that increasing demand by creating a right to pay for sex increases exploitation (though that is also true), it was also that by creating a situation whereby care workers arrange for such conduct, the Court was putting both the care workers and those they care for at risk of being prosecuted for serious criminal offences.
Fuller details can be read on this link: https://www.centreforwomensjustice.org.uk/new-blog-1/2021/10/22/there-is-no-right-to-buy-sex