Milestone Lecture 2019 by Dr Rachel Clement Tolley, Fellow in Law

Date & timeSaturday, 9 November 3:00pm - 4:00pm
LocationTrinity Hall Lecture Theatre
CostNo charge
Booking closing date Friday, 8 November 12:00pm
Dress code None
Event type Lecture followed by tea and coffee

‘Criminal Law, Battery and Bodily Harm: Reforming the Criminal Law for users of Mobility Aids’ by Dr Rachel Clement Tolley, Fellow in Law


Ms Rachel Clement

Dr Rachel Clement Tolley: Before joining Trinity Hall, Rachel was a member of Wadham College, Oxford, where she completed her BA (Jurisprudence), and BCL. She recently submitted her DPhil thesis, entitled Deception, Mistake, Privacy and Consent: A Conceptual Framework for Resolving the ‘Line-drawing’ Problem in Sex-by-Deception and Mistaken Sex. Whilst at Wadham, Rachel was one of three graduate students to co-found and organise the Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Mooting Championship in 2014. This major event in the Oxford mooting calendar was established to promote discussion of disability and how it intersects with domestic and international law; an issue to which Rachel remains committed here in Cambridge.

Rachel’s main area of research concerns the effect of deception and mistake on the validity of consent to sexual activity in English criminal law. Rachel also maintains research interests in the non-fatal offences against the person. She is currently working on a paper which considers how the law should conceptualise damage to prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Rachel teaches criminal law and tort law for the Hall, and is honoured to hold a fellowship in the name of John Collier.


Despite the voluminous critical literature on the non-fatal, non-sexual offences against the person, including the 2015 Law Commission reform proposals, the application of these offences to the bodies of users of mobility aids has been overlooked. If D deliberately strikes V’s prosthetic leg and breaks it, and D intends to damage only the prosthetic leg, D is not liable for any serious offence against the person. Whilst the law of battery does extend to unlawful contact with a person’s mobility aid, and so would capture this scenario, the law as it currently stands fails to characterise accurately both the severity of the harm sustained by V and the nature and gravity of the wrong committed by D. Drawing on phenomenology, medical and psychological research, and critical disability studies, I argue that we must reject a definition of the ‘body’ that is constrained by traditionally understood ‘biological’ boundaries. Only by reimagining the body in this way can the criminal law appropriately recognise, respect and protect all bodies, including those of people with disabilities.

100 years of women in law

The topic of this year’s lecture coincides with the centenary of the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, when women were finally allowed to practise law. To mark this milestone, the University has established an exciting new social network of alumnae, Cambridge Women in Law (CWIL), which will feature a diverse range of women from all sectors. CWIL was officially launched on 27 September 2019. Find out more


The Milestone Lecture is free to attend and open to all – online booking is now open, click here. You are welcome to bring up to three guests with you and bookings will be taken on a first come-first served basis until we reach capacity. 

After the lecture, you are invited for tea and coffee in the Graham Storey Room. There is no charge.


There is disabled access to all main areas of College. If you require assistance accessing the Lecture Theatre, please speak to a Porter or member of the Alumni and Development Team on arrival who will be able to direct you to the lift.

If you need to park on Central Site or if you need to access Central Site by car, please contact us in advance so we can make the necessary arrangements for you. Please be aware that access by car is only possible before 10am and after 4pm on Saturdays due to traffic restrictions in the City Centre. If you require access within these times, please visit the Cambridgeshire County Council website for information of day permits.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in advance if you have any other accessibility needs. Email or contact +44 (0)1223 332550.

How to support teaching and research at Trinity Hall

If you would like to show your support for teaching and research at Trinity Hall, please consider making a donation, which you can do as part of the booking process. To find out more about teaching support, please visit the Trinity Hall website.


Please be aware that we will be filming the lecture from the back of the room. If you would prefer not to be caught on camera, please let a member of staff know when you arrive so we can seat you in an area that won’t be covered by the camera.


If you are no longer able to attend, please do let us know as soon as possible so we can reallocate your ticket. Please email or call +44 (0)1223 332550.


If you have any queries, please contact Emma Grieveson in the Alumni & Development Office on or +44 (0)1223 332550. Alternatively, you may wish to refer to our FAQs, click here.