Criminal Liability “In a just society criminal liability should never be imposed without
some degree of blameworthiness”
Offences of strict liability are those, which do not require any mens
rea with regards to at least one or more of the actus rea. The mens
rea usually requires intention and or recklessness.
However some crimes are possible to commit without any knowledge,
intention or responsibility on behalf of the defendant. Therefore the
primary issue is should these defendants be guilty and held liable for
these crimes under strict liability.
In Gammon (Hong Kong) ltd v Attorney General (Hong Kong) 1984, the
grounds on which strict liability can be imposed were brought about;
As a general rule, the more serious the criminal offence created by
statute, the less likely the courts are to view it as an offence of
strict liability. For acts, which are truly criminal mens rea should
be needed in order to make the defendant liable and this is the case
in law, however the type of offence where men rea is not necessary and
one can be liable is when the statute is concerned with an issue of
This principle was outlined in Sweet v Parsley 1970; the defendant was
convicted under s5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965, of "being
concerned in the management of premises used for the smoking of
cannabis". She appealed alleging that she had no knowledge of the
circumstances and indeed could not expect reasonably to have had such
knowledge. The House of Lords, quashing her conviction, held that it
had to be proved that the defendant had intended the house to be used
for drug-taking, since the statute in question created a serious, or
"truly criminal" offence, conviction for which would have grave
consequences for the defendant.
Even with offences surrounding issues of social concern mens rea is
still expected unless it can be argued that by making a person liable
through strict liability would increase the vigilance of others to
prevent the commission of the...