Strict Liability Info A2 Law OCR G153

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Nadine Allen
Strict Liability
It is presumed that in all criminal offences you requite 2 elements: Actus Reus and
mens rea but there is over 3500 crimes that are known as SL cases where the
prosecution must only prove Actus Reus was present. Whether there is mens rea or
not is irrelevant. Most SL are not serious offences
Old/Rare examples of common law SL offences:
Criminal Libel ­ editors of newspapers are responsible for articles published
with/without their knowledge. This is now contained within an Act of Parliament
Blasphemous Libel ­ Lemon V Gay News editor was convicted when an illustrated
poem describing Jesus homosexual practices was published. (Recently this offence
has been abolished)
How do you know if it's a SL offence?
If an act doesn't mention mens rea type words e.g. intentionally, recklessly or
maliciously etc. then the offence is likely to be SL
Prince 1875 D took an unmarried girl from her father believing she was 18. He
was convicted of an offence because the Act made no mention of
mens rea being required. Had he taken a girl under the age of 18?
Yes so he was guilty
B 2000 D (14yr old boy) was charged with inciting a girl under 14 to commit
Blowjob on the bus an act of gross indecency (oral sex). There was no mention of mens
Doesn't protect the rea in the Act so it looked like it was a SL offence. However the
victim courts ruled that it wasn't and even though mens rea wasn't
mentioned it should be presumed. As he honestly thought she was
over 14 his conviction was quashed
K 2001 A 26yr od man took part in sex acts with a 14yr old, he honestly
Doesn't protect the believed she was 16. The HL said that parliament hadn't intended for
victim it to be a SL offence where D makes an honest mistake about the
age of the girl so D wasn't guilty
G 2008 D believed the girl was 15 when he has sex with her. She was only 12
Protects the victim and under the sexual offences act 2003 this amounts to rape. HL
upheld the conviction
Cundy 1884 D was charged with selling liquor to a drunk person. Magistrate
Protects the victim trying the case found as a fact D and the employees hadn't noticed
the man was drunk. Victim was in a licenced premises and there was
no evidence he was intoxicated. Magistrate held the offence was
proof a sale had taken place so convicted the D.
Object of the Act is to prevent very drunk people injuring
themselves or committing crimes
Shah and Shah 1999 A staff member sold a lottery ticket to a 13yr old without asking for
Protects the victim ID. The other 2 Ds (fellow staff members) weren't even present at

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Nadine Allen
the time of the sale but Divisional Court held it was SL case and all
defendants were guilty.
Smedleys V Breed A tin of peas had caterpillars in it, Guilty of offence. The public is
Protects the victim protected against the selling of unfit goods
Callow V Tillstone Butcher asked vet if carcass was safe for human consumption, vet
1900 said it was okay so Butcher sold it.…read more

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Nadine Allen
There is no way of knowing if Parliament intended the crime to be a SL offence
1. Each offence to state if its strict liability ­ would make it clearer and easier to
know if its SL
2. Each offence to have a due diligence defence ­ fairer on D e.g. Shah and
3.…read more


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