Pros and Cons Of Strict Liability

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  • Pros and Cons of Strict Liability
    • Arguments For (Pros)
      • Protection of the Public
        • Strict liability raises standards where the health and safety of the public is at stake and forces those in a position of responsibility to take extra precautions
      • Promoting enforcement of the law
        • Strict liability ensures more convictions are secured and does not allow people to escape liability through a fabricated account of their state of mind.
      • Deterrence/raising standards
        • It is often argued that imposing strict liability will lead to people taking more care and act as a deterrent to others.
      • Easier to Administer
        • If mens rea was required to proved in every case for such offences, the courts would be unable to cope with the workload.
    • Arguments Against (Cons)
      • Injustice
        • A person may be liable where they are not at fault and have exercised all reasonable care
          • PSGB v Storkwain - The pharmacist had a genuine belief the prescription was valid
          • R v Howells - The defendant was liable despite being unaware that he required a licence and had no intention to use the gun as a weapon
          • Callow v Tillstone - The butcher was liable despite doing everything possible to have the meat checked out
      • Strict liability does not necessarily act as a deterrent
        • In order to act as a deterrent, a person must have knowledge of what they are doing is wrong before being able to take steps to prevent it. In many cases the defendant is unaware of the circumstances leading to liability
      • Stigma
        • Any criminal offence carries a stigma and needs to be declared for employment purposes. It can cause immense damage to a person's or a business' reputation and therefore proof of fault should always be a requirement in establishing criminal liability.


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