Offences where MR is not required in respect to at least one aspect of the AR are known as strict liability offences.

    • Pharmaceutical Society of GB v Storkwain Ltd 1986: pharmacist gives out drugs to a prescription which is forged. Even though he was unaware of this, the pharmacist had supplied the drugs without a genuine prescription and this was enough to make him guilty of the offence.

Requirement of actus reus? For nearly all strict liability offences it must be probed that D did the relevant AR. It also has to be proved that doing of the AR was voluntary.


Absolute liability means that no MR at all is required for the offence. They involve 'status offences' offences where the AR is a 'state of affairs' (Larsonneur 1933). D is liable because they have been found in a certain situation. To be an absolute liability offence the following conditions must apply:

  • the offence does not require any MR, and

  • there is no need to prove that D's AR was voluntary

    • Winzar 1983: D was charged with s2 Licensing Act 1972 and appealed on the ground he had not been on the public road of his own volition. The divisional court upheld his conviction holding that the required for liability was that D should be perceived to be drunk whilst on a public highway. There was no need for the court to consider how he got there.


For offences there is a presumption that MR is required. The courts will start with this presumption, but if they decide that the offence does not require MR for at least one part of the AR then the offence is one of strict liability.

    • Prince 1875: s55 OAPA he took a girl under 18 (but thought she was 18) out of the possession of her father . He was held guilty as knowledge of her age was not needed.

    • Hibbert 1889: D slept with a 14 year old girl even though the age aspect of the offence was one of strict liability, MR was required for the removal out of possession of her dad and the needed intention wasn't proved

No fault? AR must be proved and D's conduct must be voluntary. However D can be convicted if his voluntary act inadvertently caused a prohibited consequence. This is so even though D was totally blameless.

    • Callow v Tillstone 1900: a butcher was convicted guilty of selling unfit meat even though he asked a vet to examine it prior to selling → the vet sad meat is OK. Because it was a strict liability offence he was guilty even though he was not at fault.

No 'due diligence' defence? For some offences the statute provides a defence of 'due diligence'. This is where D will not be liable if he did all that was within his power not to commit the offence. It can be argued that


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