Strict Liability

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  • Strict liability
    • Concept of Strict liability
      • mens rea is not needed for at least one element of a voluntary actus reus
      • must be proved that D did relevant actus reus
    • Absolute Liability
      • no mens rea is required at all and the actus reus need not be voluntary
      • following conditions must apply
        • offence does not require any mens rea
        • no need to prove that D's actus reus was voluntary
      • Larsonneur (1933) - D ordered to leave UK, so sent to Ireland - but they deported her back to UK
        • found guilty of an offence under the Alien Order 1920
      • Winzar v CC of Kent (1983) - taken to hospital because he appeared to be ill, however it was later found he was drunk
        • convicted of being found drunk on a highway under s12 Licensing Act 1892
    • Principles of Strict Liability
      • initial presumption of mens rea
        • if court decide that offence does not require mens rea for at least part of the actus reus = SL
      • no need for mens rea for all aspects of offence
        • Prince (1875) - took girl from father, reasonably believing her to be 18 or over, but she was under 18
          • intended to take girl and liability strict as to age to protect young girls
        • Hibbert (1869) met girl aged 14 and they had sex
          • not convicted as no proof he intended to remove girl from father even though liability strict to her age
      • no fault
        • D can be liable even if the prohibited consequence occurs inadvertently and their act was totally blameless
        • Callow v Tillstone (1900) - butcher convicted of exposing unsound meat for sale
          • irrelevant that vet passed meat as fit for human consumption
      • no 'due diligence' defence
        • sometime parliament incorporate a defence of due diligence into statutes
          • D will not be liable if he can show he did all within his power not coomit the offence
        • no sensible pattern when parliament decides to include defence
        • Harrow LBC v Shah + Shah (1999)
          • employee sold lottery ticket to under 16
            • conviction even though given employees instructions on checking age before sale + nothing more could be done
      • No defence of mistake
        • no defence even if mistake honest
        • Cundy v Le Cocq (1884) - D charged with selling intoxicating liquor to drunken person
          • sale taken place + drunken state could have been observed even though no obvious evidence
        • Sherras v De Rutzen (1895) - D's daughter sold alcohol to constable on duty - no way of knowing due to lack of police armband
          • conviction quashed as nothing D could do to prevent offence


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