PartnersValerie Ingram LLBNishad Lochee LLBJames Exton LLB | 18 Temple Row. BirminghamB2 5DS | DX: 13853 Birmingham -1Phone: 0121 230 4932Fax: 0121 230 4933E-mail: ilexpt.co.uk |
Ingram, Lochee & Exton
Strict Liability Offences – Information for clients
Strict liability offences are those in which it has been decided that mens rea (criminal intention) is not required and that if someone has fulfilled the actus reus (physical act) of the crime, whether they intended to or not, then this will be enough to convict. There is, however, a presumption of law that mens rea is required before a person can be found guilty of a criminal offence, this presumption and four others can be ...view middle of the document...
Statutory strict liability offences include offences relating to the preparation of food, possessing unlawful weapons and drugs, and driving offences such as drink driving and speeding. Examples of common law strict liability offences include public nuisance, blasphemous libel, outraging public decency and criminal defamatory libel.
There is generally no defence against strict liability offences, although there are some exceptions to this rule, but usually only if specific defences have been expressly mentioned in the relevant statute. Defences for strict liability are those that are relevant to actus reus and not the mens rea. Defences which are probably relevant to actus reus include automatism (automatism occurs when there is a total loss of voluntary control. Impaired or reduced control is not sufficient) and duress. The defence of honest mistake as to fact (in the sense of a belief in circumstances which, if true, would make the defendant's conduct innocent), will usually succeed in an allegation of strict liability. Defences which are relevant to mens rea have no place in cases of strict or absolute liability, since it does not have to be proved.
With statutory strict liability the decision on whether or not the liability of the offence is strict depends on the wording of the act. There are several key words and phrases that the courts look at in the statute to decide whether or not an offence is strict liability. These include: permitting or allowing, cause, possession, knowingly and wilfully and maliciously. The interpretation of these words will be what decides whether or not a mens rea of intention, recklessness or negligence is required.
Some very important cases have helped defining the strict liability...