strict liability

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Offences of strict liability are those where the D is guilty because they did the Actus Reus… in these cases there is no need to prove the mens rea! (This is known as absolute liability) also no need to prove the actus reus was voluntary!


-          This can be seen through the case of Larsonneur. In this case, the defendant had been ordered to leave the country and went to Ireland but they deported her and took her back to the UK. We can see that she had no Mens Rea.

-          Another example of this can be Harrow London Borough Council v Shah. In this case, the staff of a shop sold lottery tickets to a 13 year old boy and the defendants were found guilty straight away and no Mens Rea was needed even though they had done their best to prevent this from happening in their shop.

Which offences are strict liability?-

Judges often have difficulties in deciding whether an offence is one of strict liability or not, the first rule that helps them is where an Act of Parliament includes words that suggest Mens Rea. These can be words such as ‘knowingly’, ‘intentionally’, ‘maliciously’ etc. And in Acts where these words are used, we are aware that a Mens Rea is needed. However if an Act of Parliament makes it clear that a Mens Rea is not needed, then the offence will be one of Strict Liability.

The presumption of Mens Rea-

-          However there can be problems when an Act of Parliament doesn’t include any words indicating Mens Rea.

-          This is where judges begin to presume that all criminal acts require a Mens Rea.

-          This can be seen in the case of Sweet v Parsley. In this case, the defendant rented out a farmhouse and let it out to students. The police found cannabis at the farmhouse and the defendant was charged with ‘being concerned


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