Strict Liability

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  • Strict Liability
    • Strict liability crimes are crimes which require no proof of mens rea in relation to one or more aspects of the actus reus.
    • As strict liability has the potential to create injustice and operate harshly there is a general presumption that mens rea is required to impose criminal liability
      • Gammon (Hong Kong) Ltd v A-G of Hong Kong 1985
      • According to Gammon, this presumption may be rebutted where:
        • The crime is regulatory as oppose to a true crime
          • Where the crime is regulatory as oppose to a true crime, the presumption of mens rea gives way to a finding  of strict liability
            • Sweet v Parsley 1970
          • Examples of regulatory crimes include Health and safety regulations such as pollution and sale of unfit meat
            • Alphacell v Woodward 1972
            • Callow v Tillstone 1900
        • The crime is one of social concern
          • Examples of offences of social concern include driving offences
            • R v Williams 2011
        • The wording of the Act indicates strict liability
          • The presumption of mens rea is rebutted by express provision in the statute excluding the requirement of mens rea
            • PSGB v Storkwain Ltd 1986
            • Cundy v Le Cocq 1884
        • The offence carries a small penalty.
          • Generally where an offence carries a small penalty, this will indicate that it is not a true crime and therefore one of strict liability
            • However, just because an offence carries a heavy penalty does not mean that it is one requiring mens rea
              • R v Prince 1875
              • R v Howells 1977


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