Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon a full appreciation and understanding of the facts and implications of any actions. In addition, the individual will be in possession of all of their faculties, and their judgment will not be impaired at the time of consenting.
In many countries, people cannot give informed consent until they reach a certain age. The argument is that as a child the person might be incapable of comprehending the arguments and information, and thus could give consent, but even after the act of informing the child the consent would not be considered as based on being informed. The term age of consent is especially applied to consenting to sexual acts.
Some acts can not legally take place because of a lack of informed consent, e.g. sexual acts, in other cases consent of legal parents or guardians of a child on its behalf is valid.
People must give informed consent before medical operations, and doctors have been struck off in the United Kingdom for not giving their patients a full awareness of the risks associated with such things as medical trials of new medications and operations. In one case a doctor performing routine surgery on a woman noticed that she had cancerous tissue in her womb. He took the decision to remove the woman's womb, however as she had not given informed consent for this operation, the doctor was judged by the General Medical Council to have acted negligently. The council said that the woman should have been informed of her condition, and allowed to make her own decision.
The question of whether informed consent needs to be formally given before sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, and whether this consent can be withdrawn at any time during the act, is an issue which is currently being discussed in the United States in regard to rape and sexual assault legislation.