Strict liability - why is it used and how do we kn
Strict liability - these are offences that need only actus reus andNO MENS REA!
- To provide basic saftey to the public
- To make convictions easier as NO MENS REA is needed to be proven
- Created during industrial revolutions as factory owners were getting away as there was no mens rea.
- Makes regulations striaghtforward and clear
- Quasi crimes - not 'truley criminal'
- Act as a deterent to the public for doing certain things.
1) Do the words use in the act imply strict liability? Recklessly or knowingly = mens rea Cause or posession = usually no mens rea
2) Is the offence really criminal or merely regulatory? It is pressumed all criminal offences need mens rea unless the definition of the offence states otherwise.
Strict liability - Case examples
Sweet v Parsley (1970) - woman rented out flat to students - cannabis found in flat - land lady wasnt convicted as management of premisis is not included in dangerous drugs act 1960.
Alphacell v Woodward (1972) - Papermakers - overflow from settling tanks pooluted river as pumping equipment was blocked - fined £20
Smedleys v Breed - Cattipilar found in peas - one of millions - convicted under food and drugs act 1955
R v Blake (1997) - D convicted making illegal rasio broadcasts - didnt know he was - could have affected operation of emergency services.
London Borough of Harrow v Shah - Sold national lottery ticket to under 16 - not criminal but looked at as matter of concern.
Strict liability - Case examples continued
Gammon LTD v Attorney General for Hong Kong (1985) - Set out general critertia to work of if an offence is a strict liability offence
- Should be pressumption that you need actus reus and mens rea as a general rule
- The presumption that actus reus and mens rea is stronger is the offence is truely criminal
- Statute must clearly exclude mens rea - wording can indicate this.
- Presumption can be displaces in issues of 'social concern' or safety.
Examples of strict liability offences
- Traffic offence
- Food safety
- Public disorders
- possesion of a weapon
- Health and safety
Strict liability - advantages and disadvantages
- Easy to prove as you dont need to prove mens rea only actus reus
- Takes less time to convict as mens rea doesnt need to be proven
- It pritects the public ad they were put in place to keep people safe
- It encourages compliance
- Makes regualtions straightforward
- Somemay argue theres no evidence that people take more care to avoid harm to others because of strict liability
- Punishing people regardless of mean rea seems unfair