• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Strict Liability. I shall look at different cases in order to justify whether the offence of strict liability is effective in promoting greater vigilance.

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐According to the criminal law, the actus reus and the mens rea are general requirements to constitute a criminal offence; however, where the offence is of strict liability, there is no requirement for the proof of mens rea. The negation of mens rea means that an individual may be convicted regardless of their mental state, whether they behaved reasonably or not. This has stirred up much debate on the justification of a strict liability offence as some view it as necessary to ?promote the objects of the statute? and is a matter of ?social concern?; whilst others have taken the view that strict liability is too strict an offence and should be abolished. In this answer, I shall look at different cases in order to justify whether the offence of strict liability is effective in promoting greater vigilance. Firstly, statutes often contain unambiguous wordings in guiding courts as to whether mens rea is required in the interpretation of statutes. The courts then has the discretion to determine whether there should be a presumption of mens rea in establishing an offence; the courts must consider a few factors in determining whether the offence of strict liability should be inferred from the statute. ...read more.


The courts are unlikely to give a strict liability sentence but rather they are more likely to read in the requirement of mens rea. In the case of Sweet v Parsley, a woman let her farmhouse to students; upon investigation by the police, cannabis was found. Although the woman had no reason to know that there was cannabis present in her property, she was convicted under strict liability as no mens rea was required. However the House of Lords held that the stigma attached to drugs was too grave, thus mens rea should be read in. Therefore, there should be a presumption of mens rea and so Sweet?s criminal conviction was quashed. It was also held that where the offence was of a great concern to society, the courts are unlikely to read in the requirement of mens rea, but instead give a sentence of strict liability. In Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Storkwain, a pharmacist was presented a forged prescription by the patient, nevertheless the pharmacist supplied the patient with the drugs. ...read more.


Convictions would also be held where an individual had not acted unreasonably and have exercised reasonable care. Furthermore, it has been viewed to be unjust in convicting individuals who were completely unaware that an offence is being completed, such as in Pharmaceutical. Plus, a conviction under strict liability would not be an effective deterrent because defendants may very well be unaware that an offence is being completed, therefore they will be unable to take steps to prevent it anyways. The element of overdeterrence associated with a strict liability conviction discourages people from engaging in socially beneficial commercial activities. To conclude, although convictions under strict liability may seem unfair, it is ultimately necessary to protect the public from potential harm should the offence have occurred. The fact that a high standard of care is required means that society would be better protected from harms such as pollution and drunk driving. The fact that a conviction under strict liability does not require mens rea means that the law would be more easily enforced and so prevent those who have participated in a dangerous act to escape liability. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Criminal Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Briefly explain the meaning of, and reasons for, strict liability as a criminal offence

    3 star(s)

    The second presumption being that if the offence is 'truly criminal,' as per the case of B V DPP, then judges will decide it not one of the strict liability offences. The third presumption being that the offence is a statutory offence and it must be clear and have an implication of the effect of a statute.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How effective was the defence of intoxication?

    3 star(s)

    In Hardie (1985) D became depressed when his relationship broke down with his girlfriend, he then took some valium tablets after being reassured that they would not do him any harm. He set fire to a wardrobe and claimed he was asleep and could not remember anything.

  1. Criminal offences are usually defined in terms of a guilty act (actus reus) and ...

    This is known as a thin skull rule. It works on the idea that you take your victim as you find them.

  2. Explain the meaning of Actus reus and mens rea

    For example Hill v West Yorkshire police where it was held that the police owe a duty to the general public and not specific individuals. Explain the meaning of breach of duty Lord Alderson in Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks described negligence as doing something the reasonable man would not do

  1. Explain what is meant by the term causation in criminal law and assess how ...

    If the victim?s reaction was unreasonable this may break the chain of causation. In Williams a hitchhiker jumped from a car and died from head injuries. The prosecution alleged there had been a attempt to steal v wallet and that was his reason for jumping.

  2. Explain what is meant by the term 'causation' in criminal law and assess how ...

    However, should religious grounds be enough to make the defendant liable for the consequence and not just the act committed? Here, the case of Deer could be relevant, as the defendant was still guilty even though the victim?s acts could have saved their life.

  1. List and explain the six most important cases for the law on insanity, explaining ...

    This produced a temporary loss of consciousness, during which time, D made an entirely motiveless and irrational attack on his wife with a hammer, causing her serious injury. He admitted that he was suffering from a ?defect of reason?, but this defect of reason had not been caused by a disease of the mind, but a physical disease.

  2. Nina runs a burger bar. She puts up a sign in the window saying ...

    "The criminal law must accept the distribution of property recognised and enforceable at civil law and protect that property through its blaming and coercive mechanisms." Nina Section 1(1) of the Fraud Act 2006 simply states "A person is guilty of fraud if he is in breach of any of the sections listed in subsection (2)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work