strict laibilty


An offence where mens rea is not required in one aspect of the actus reus.

First created in mid 19th cent- woodrow (1846)- adulterated tabbacco.

Contradicts the basis of criminal liabilty as many crimes require both.

They are mainly minor regulatory offences so tired in magistrates.

ie callow- unsound meat

unlike absolute liabilty nwhere you need no proof of mens rea, no proof of voluntary action ie Larsonneur- deported 

winzar- fault drunk on public highway

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actus reus must be voluntary

prince 1875 - OAPA 16 yr old taken out of her father possesion, belived 18 convicted on fact he knew she was in her fathers possesion no mens rea needed for age.

hibbert 1869 - 14 yr old met d on street had sex, d aquitted as he wasnt aware she was in possesion of her father 

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no due diligence

in some offences the statute creating the offence also provides a defence- ie d will not be liabile if he can prove that he did everything in his power not to commit the offence.

tesco 1972- reduced washing powder out of stock even though it was stll being advertised- the defence was that it was a reasonable mistake and they took all of the reasonable precautions to avoid this

no consistency in parliament- the defence should always be avaliable- shah and shah 1999

for new statuotry offences the dence is more often provided

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no defense of mistake

key as if it was d would be aquitted when he made an honest mistake

cundy v le cocq 1884selling alchol to a drunk even if he did not appear so

sherras v de rutzen 1895- suppling liquor to an officer whilst on duty although it was not clear he was on duty as he had no band on

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statutory and strict liability offences

Half of statutory offences are strict liabilty about 5000 mostly regulatory- regulating sale of food, drink, tickets, pollution and the safe use of vehuicles ect.

The judge has to interpret the statute and presume mens rea is required but it may be robutted by the wording of the statute, if mens rea words are used like knowingly, willingly or negligently ect

james and son ltd v smee 1955- d permitted the useof an unfit motor vehicle

sheppard v sheppard 1980- couple negelected baby who consequently died of hypothermiaa linked to malnutirtion but they had no mens rea aas they thought the baby wasnt eating as i had a minor stomache upset.

if an act of parliament is silent about the need for strict liabilty then the courts must decide

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the presumption of mens rea

judges start by presuming that mens rea is required

sweet v parsely-  students growing canibis- quashed the conviction on the poresumption that mens rea required

the principle has been affirmed by the HOL in B V DPP- 15yr old boy asked 14 yr old girl for a shiner

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the gammon criteria

Gammon ltd v a-g of hong kong 1984- devaited from building plans, dependant if they wheere aware tha they had. the ocurt had to decide if they knew they where making a material devaition.

the priviy concil stated the folowing must be considered if the presumption of mens rea is to be removed:

1. presumption is required for a crimminal offence

2. is it truley crimminal (prison sentance)

3. mens rea words are used

4. deals with an issue of social concern

5. promotes the object of a statute

blake 1997- wireless telegraphy messed with the emergency service transmission therfore is an issue of social concern

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looking at the wording of an act

where words indicate that mens rea is required is not an offence of strict liabilty is required

if it has no mnes rea words the courts will look at the sections in the act if they have mens rea words then it is likely to be one of stict liabilty like:

strokwain 1986- false preseciption

however this is not always the case as in sjerras v de rutzen 1895

where other sections allow for a defence of due diligence but the section in questiondoes not allow this is another indicator that it is one of strict liability- shah and shah- underage gambling 

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quasi criminal offences

gammon stated that the presumption of mens rea is truley stong in crimes that are "truely crimminal"

crimes that are regulatory are not considered as truley crimminal and are refered to as quasi crimes as they affect large areas of everyday life;

selling food in callow - unsound meat

selling alchol in cundy

building regulations of gammon

scale of lottery tickets to under age children- horrow 

the prevention of pollution- alphacell ltd v woodward 1972  

where an offence carries a prision it is truley crimminal

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issue of social concern

an act of potential danger to public health, safety or moral like in blake

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promoting the enforcement of the law

if the impositionof strict liabilty is more effective there is no point m,aming ti one of strict liabilty

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