Strict Liability In Criminal Law Essay

2066 words - 8 pages

It is the purpose of this essay to discuss whether the implementation
of strict liability within criminal law system is a necessary means
for combating crime, and if there is any justification for its use.

Strict liability is the placing of liability upon the defendant(s),
regardless of whether or not mens rea is present. This can include
instances of negligence, carelessness or accident. There are a number
of arguments for and against strict liability, and this essay will
identify and explore these arguments.

It is often argued that by promoting high standards of care, strict
liability protects the liberty of the public from dangerous practices.
Barbara Wootton (Crime and Criminal Law: reflections of a Magistrates
and Social Scientist, 1981, p.256-258) defends strict liability on
this basis, suggesting that the objective of criminal law is to
prevent ‘socially damaging activities’. In support of this, it is
suggested by Elliot and Quinn (Criminal Law, 2000, p.32) that-

‘It would be absurd to turn a blind eye to those who cause harm due to
carelessness, negligence or even an accident’.

This approach appears to be stringent. One might be inclined to
suggest that accident is part of human nature, and in applying strict
liability to even the most honest mistakes, a satisfactory outcome may
not be achieved. One example of this is found in Smedleys v Breed
(1974). The defendants were convicted under the Food and Drugs act
1955, after a caterpillar was found in a tin of peas. Despite the fact
that individual inspection of each pea would not have prevented the
offence being committed, Lord Hailsham defended the imposition of
strict liability on the grounds that-

‘…to construe the Food and Drugs Act 1955 in a sense less
strict….would make a serious inroad on the legislation for consumer
protection.’ (Elliot and Quinn, p.36)

Since they had taken all reasonable and practical precautions, it
would appear that this ruling is fairly severe. There does appear,
however, to be a strong argument for its use in order to protect the
consumer, and perhaps more specifically, the public.

There is also a great deterrent value in the implementation of strict
liability. Roe (Criminal Law, 2nd ed, 2001, p.210) tells us that many
offences are not handled by the Crown Prosecution Service or the
police, but by ‘…special Government bodies, such as the Health and
Safety Inspectorate, which checks that safety rules are observed in
the workplace.’ The bodies tend to work by pressuring any potential
offenders into putting right any breaches with the threat of
prosecution. It is the opinion of this essay that this could be an
effective method in combating the breaching of any Health and Safety
rules; strict liability may allow enforcement agencies to ‘Strengthen
their position’ (Roe, p.211.1) as...

Find Another Essay On Strict Liability in Criminal Law

The Importance of Criminal Investigation in the Law Enforcement

713 words - 3 pages information that would otherwise be unable to gather from law enforcement personnel. However, many of these informants are criminals associated with the crime being investigated Criminal investigation may be a terribly troublesome and dangerous operation of police work. Once a criminal offense happens, a police officer goes to the scene of the crime, gathers information, and searches for for the potential suspects. If in case, there are

Women in Criminal Justice: Attorneys and Law Enforcement

2512 words - 10 pages During the late nineteenth-century, women went to court to continue to secure their rights to participate in public life: to vote, to be a justice of the peace, to be a notary public, to serve as school district directors, school committee officers, school officers, and prosecuting attorneys, an of course to practice law (Drachman, 1998). The criminal justice system is a male dominated occupation. For many years women have

The Roles of the Main Players in A Canadian Criminal Law Case

1146 words - 5 pages The role of a judge is to preside over trials in our courts of law while exercising the virtues of integrity, impartiality and independence. It is the duty of a judge to uphold the rule of law to ensure equal treatment of everyone in pursuit of justice. A judge must also uphold the principles of the Canadian Constitution to protect the rights of individual citizens, as well as to guarantee that Canadian legislation does not exceed its boundaries

The Australian Legal system, differences in civil law and criminal justice, how can both systems be improved? Justify.

1097 words - 4 pages In Nsw, courts provide a resolution between individuals, corporations, government agencies etc... Courts are the place where the validity and application of law are determined and enforced. In courts there are two systems, Criminal justice and Civil law. Generally Criminal cases involves the person being persecuted by the police or Director of public persecutions for an offence against the law, while civil cases are disputes between people

This is an essay that describes how the 4th ammendamant effects law enforcement in America. This was used in Criminal Justice 101.

1013 words - 4 pages officer to seize particularly described items and to bring them before the court that issued the warrant. In common law, search warrants were used mainly to discover stolen property. In modern law, they have a variety of items, including intoxicating liquors, gambling implements, counterfeiters' tools, burglars' tools, smuggled goods, obscene literature, narcotics, illegal firearms and any article the possession of which is a crime or which may

Criminal Liability

918 words - 4 pages 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 social concern. This principle was outlined in Sweet v Parsley

“Corporate criminal liability for manslaughter has finally been given statutory form and rightly so.” Discuss.

4525 words - 18 pages ." However, this is a rare and exceptional doctrine in criminal law as it mainly applies when it is imposed by statute or for strict liability offences where no mens rea is required on the part of the employee. Therefore, the courts had to develop a different approach for offences, such as corporate manslaughter, which required the establishment of mens rea.Identification DoctrinePrior to reform, the mechanism by which a corporation could be held

Suggestions on reform of the law of rape in South Australia

1602 words - 6 pages stringent approach. The law in Western Australia (Criminal Code s325) and the law reform in Victoria should be referred to.Mens rea should be abolished, due to its complexity and the difficulties to be established. Also, the finding of intention and recklessness can be difficult and unsafe, as can be seen in the cases mentioned before. Strict liability should be used instead, with the defence of honest and reasonable belief by the accused.The new

Torts versus Crimes

1549 words - 6 pages established to impose compensation to a victim and to prove that the defendant had a legal responsibility to act in a particular way and must also demonstrate that the defendant breached of a legal obligation by failing in their responsibility and as a result of the actions the plaintiff suffered a loss or injury (Suber n.d). Crimes are part of the legislature and a statue or written law is enforced (Suber n.d). The focus of the criminal case is on

Actus Reus

1745 words - 7 pages objective of a criminal offense). This is an essential element in the determination of a crime. Thus, when no reasonable doubt exists as a result of the demonstration of proof, the act of guilt, shown together with the intention of the individual to commit a crime (mens rea), creates criminal liability of the accused in criminal jurisdictions that follow the system of common law (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Ireland). Discussion and


1346 words - 5 pages intention or be negligent and he had hands to carry out his intentions. A corporation has none of these."In order to get around this problem the law has developed various techniques for attributing liability to corporateentities. The first technique is the application of vicarious liability, which provides that a company will be strictly liable for criminal acts carried out by its employees in the course of their employment. However, as a general rule

Similar Essays

Criminal Law In The News Essay

917 words - 4 pages Criminal Law in the NewsI chose to use an article that I received from This article is about how there are 15 states that have enacted laws that expands the right of self defense back in 2006.According to the Liptak, the supporters of this law call them "stand your ground" laws and the opponents call them "shoot first" laws. There have been many so called self defense shootings that were not self

Criminal Conspiracy In Historical Common Law

1371 words - 5 pages Criminal Conspiracy in Historical Common Law The law of conspiracy is considerably more complex and uncertain than it need be because the statutory reform of the area largely contained in Part I of the criminal law Act 1977 was only partial. As a result, there are now two types of conspiracy – statutory conspiracies governed by the 1977 Act, and an important but limited range of common law conspiracies, which were expressly retained by the act

The Burden Of Proof In English Criminal Law

2418 words - 10 pages In Criminal cases, the general principle is that when it comes to proving the guilt of an accused person, the burden of proving this rests with the prosecution . In the case of Woolmington v DPP , it was stated in the judgment of Lord Sankey that; “Throughout the web of the English Criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen, that is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt subject to….. the defence of insanity and

Criminal And Civil Law In The English Legal System

1893 words - 8 pages impact on society itself. For example: a murder, theft or rape. Criminal law is dealt with in the Magistrates court and if very serious in the Crown court. It is said to be more difficult to win a case in the Magistrates court and Crown court than in a civil court as in a magistrates and crown court the evidence has to be proved beyond doubt and in a civil court evidence can be proved on a balance of probabilities