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Is the imposition of strict liability ever justifiable in criminal law?

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  • Essay length: 1768 words
  • Submitted: 06/06/2005
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GCSE Law

The first 200 words of this essay...

Is the imposition of strict liability ever justifiable in criminal law?

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'.

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