Strict Liability

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What does Strict liability consider?
offences where mens rea is not required for at least part of the actus reus
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What is an example of Strict liability?
Storkwain (1986)
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What must be proven in strict liability?
That D DID the relevant actus reus and the act was VOLUNTARY
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What is absolute liability?
Where D is found guilty even though the actus reus was NOT voluntary. Involves 'state of affairs'- D found in certain situation
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Larsonneur (1933)
Example of absolute liability
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What is the courts initial presumption?
That for all offences the presumption that mens rea is required, they will always start with this. If mens rea isn't required for at least part of the actus reus-strict liability
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Prince (1875)
example of strict liability- mens rea not required for at least part of the actus reus.
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Callow v Tillstone (1900)
D can still be convicted if the act caused the prohibited consequence, even if they were totally blameless.
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No 'due diligence' defence
Not being liable if D did everything in their power to avoid the prohibited consequence.
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Shah and Shah (1999)
Example of D doing everything in power but not getting due diligence defence
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Cundy v Le Cocq (1884)
The defence of mistake is not available
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Three existing common law strict liability offences
1) Public Nuisance 2) Criminal Libel 3)Outraging Public Decency
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Gibson v Sylveire (1991)
Outraging public decency held to be strict liability.
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Lemon and Whitehouse v Gay News (1979)`
Blasphemous libel held to be strict liability, but parliament abolished this offence
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Strict Liability offences made by an act of parliament will not require..
mens rea in the definition, but courts will still look at a number of factors in deciding whether it is strict liability
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Strict Liability is an area where statutory interpretation will be used, the first point in this process is..
The presumption of mens rea
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The first rule in deciding whether the act of parliament is Strict Liability is..
Does the AOP have any words indicating mens rea? - maliciously, intentionally, knowingly
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Sweet v Parsley (1969)
If no words indicate mens rea, then judges will assume it requires mens rea.
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Gammon (1984)
Necessary to decide whether it was Strict Liability or not, started with presuming mens rea, however there were four other factors.
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Gammon Tests (1)
The presumption can only be displaced if this is made clear or by implication the effect of the words of the statute
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Gammon Tests (2)
Presumption is particularly strong where the offence is 'truly criminal' in character.
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Gammon Tests (3)
The presumption can only be displaced if the statute is concerned with an issue of social concern such as public policy
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Gammon Tests (4)
Strict Liability should only apply if it will help enforce the law by encouraging greater vigilance to prevent the commission of the prohibited act
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What will the courts do if a particular section of the act is silent on the point of mens rea?
Look at other sections, if theres no mens in the act but there is in the act then it is likely to be Strict Liability
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What are Quasi - Criminal Offences?
Gammon Tests states that mens is required where it is truly 'criminal in character'. Offences with are regulatory are not truly criminal, therefore strict liability = quasi crimes
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B v DPP (2000) Offences which carry a penalty of imprisonment
More 'truly criminal' less likely to be Strict Liability
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What does the final point in the gammon tests address?
If the offence of strict liability is imposed and it does not make the law more effective, there is no point in making it strict liability.
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Many statutes are aimed at..
protecting the public, should outweigh D' rights, more important to protect the public
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The main justificatin of Strict Liability Offences
Their usefulness to the public. Protect public from activities which could be dangerous to them, and promotes greater care.
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Why may some people say that the strict liability offences are counterproductive?
if someone takes care and they are still found guilty, may prevent them from taking further precautions.
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Other Justifications for Strict Liability
DETS - EASIER (to enforce law, no mens, straightforward) TIME (more likely to plead guilty, saves time)DUE DILIGENCE (parl can provide this defence which softens the law)SENTENCE (judge can pass lenient sentence when blame was low)
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Arguments against Strict Liability
HERLS - HUMAN RIGHTS (eg R v G didn't know girl was same age) EVIDENCE (No evidence that it improves health and safety)RISKS (those who are unaware of risks may be guilty eg Brook (1998)LIABILITY (imposes liability who are not to blame eg Callow v Ti
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Proposals for reform on Strict liability
No way of telling if parliament has deliberately made an offence strict liability. They should make this explicit, then there would be no rules on interpreting acts. Having a defence of due diligence-avoids injustice to those who care. No prison sent
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Card 2


What is an example of Strict liability?


Storkwain (1986)

Card 3


What must be proven in strict liability?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What is absolute liability?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Larsonneur (1933)


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