AS law02 - Strict Liability

covers the following:

  • what?
  • why?
  • when?
  • examples
  • +/- of strict liability
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  • Created by: Henry Ng
  • Created on: 29-05-12 16:21

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability - these only need actus reus and no mens rea

Criteria for strict liability:

  • Gammon Ltd v Attorney Genereal for HK 1985
    • pressume you need actus reus and mens rea
    • is offence truly criminal?
    • statute must clearly exclude mens rea
    • presumption can be displaced in issue of social concern or safety
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Why have strict liability?

  • Provides basic safety to public - Smedleys v Breed 1974 (catterpillar in peas; goes against statute)
  • Easier convictions with no mens rea  - speeding tickets
  • created during industrial revolution to convict factory owners
  • straightforward and clear regulations - Alphacell v Woodward 1972 (clearing floor after factory spillage)
  • Quasi - crimes (not truly criminal) - Shah v London BC of Harrow (sold lottery ticket to an underage buyer)
  • Acts as a deterent - R v Blake 1997 (unlicensed radio station)
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When is strict liability used?

  • Words in statue must imply strict liability!
    • Reckless or Knowingly shows mens rea thus not strict liability
  • Truly criminal or merely regulatory?
    • all crimes need mens rea unless stated - Sweet V Parsley 1970 (drugs being smoked in a cottage that was being let; statute required MR thus no strict liability)
  • Examples of strict liability
    • traffic offences
    • food safety
    • public disorders
    • possession of a weapon
    • health and safety
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+/- of strict liability

Advantages of strict liability

  • easy to prove
  • less conviction time
  • protects the public
  • encourages compliance
  • straightforward regulations

Disadvantages of strict liability

  • no evidence of compliance due to strict liability (outside factors?)
  • unfairity due to no mens rea?
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