R. v. Brown – Case Brief
Regina v. Brown  2 All ER 75.
Facts: Each of the defendants participated in sado-masochistic homosexual activity in which the victims in each case consented to the activity and did not suffer permanent injury. The defendants faced charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and unlawful wounding and plead guilty when the trial judge ruled that consent was not a defense. The defendants appealed on the consent issue.
Issue: Is consent a defense to an assault causing grievous bodily harm?
Holding and Rule: No. Consent is not a defense to an assault causing grievous bodily harm.
Consent is immaterial when the unlawful act involves a degree of violence such that the infliction of bodily harm is a probable consequence. A defendant may be convicted of unlawful wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm for committing sado-masochistic acts which inflicted injuries neither transient nor trifling, despite that the acts were committed in private, the person on whom the injuries were inflicted consented to the acts, and the victim did not sustain permanent injury.
Public Policy: Society must be protected against a cult of violence which presents the danger of the proselytisation and corruption of young men and the potential for the infliction of serious personal injury.
There is no evidence to support the assertion that sado-masochist activities are essential to the happiness of the defendants or any other participants or a violation of their civil rights. Sadomasochism is not only concerned with sex; it is concerned with violence. These practices were unpredictably dangerous and degrading to body and mind and were developed with increasing barbarity and taught to persons whose consent was dubious or worthless. The defendants were middle aged men and the victims were introduced to this activity by the defendants before they were 21. Evidence showed that alcohol and drugs were used to obtain consent and increase enthusiasm.
See Hart v. Geysel for a law school torts case brief holding that a party is not liable for causing the death of another person in an illegal fight in which both parties consented if there was no anger or malicious intent to injure.