Strict Liability Criminal Law- A2 Mrs Howe
Starter- 5mins • Is the taking of Drugs a crime? • Should it be a crime? • Give reasons for your answer?
Lesson Objectives • To be able to identify when mens rea is required and when it is not • To be able to identify when a case is one of strict liability • To be able to explain what the prosecution need to show for D to be guilty of an offence of strict liability • To understand why cases of strict liability exist
Strict Liability Offences of Strict Liability are crimes:- • which are designed to protect the public at large • which do not require Mens Rea with regard to one or more elements of the Actus Reus. Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain V Storkwain Ltd 1986 • which do not need intention or to have known of that circumstance or cause. Usual rules apply with regard to Actus Reus:- • Must be a Voluntary act • Motive not relevant Unless offence is one of Absolute Liability- Larsonnuer 1933
Strict Liability • Means a person has responsibility for the consequence of their actions even where they did not have the intention (mens rea) to create that consequence or to commit an offence. Callow V Tillstone 1900 • The prosecution do not need to prove that D had the required mens rea for all the of the Actus reus for D to be found guilty of an offence with strict liability. Sweet V Parsley 1970
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain V Storkwain Ltd 1986 D was charged under s 58 (2) of the Medicines Act 1968 which states no one shall supply certain drugs without a Dr prescription. D had supplied drugs on prescription but later found the prescription had been forged. Guilty even though no finding that D had acted dishonestly, improperly or even negligently Pharmacist had supplied drugs without a genuine prescription, this was enough to make him guilty.
Larsonneur 1933 • The D who was from a foreign country and therefore termed an ‘alien’, in the language of the time) had been ordered to leave the UK. • She decided to go to Eire, where the Irish police sent her back (deported) her and took her to police custody in the UK. • She did not want to return to the UK (no Mens Rea) and her act of returning was not voluntary. • Despite this she was found guilty under the Aliens Order 1920 of being an alien to whom leave to the land in the UK has been refused and had been found in the UK. Absolute liability
Offences of Strict liability Judges often have difficulty deciding which offences are ones of strict liability. To decide they start by:- Presume a mens rea is required-(Sweet V Parsley 1969) Then look at the wording of the act- (intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, permitting all mean mens rea is required so not an offence of strict liability) Most acts are silent on mens rea or strict liability which make it difficult for Judges. Case of Gammon V Attorney General of Hong Kong 1984
Task Look at the case of Gammon Hong Kong Ltd V Attorney General Hong Kong Explain what the Gammon test is:- • used to decide • what it factors it looks at to decide it.
Offences of Strict liability • Can occur at Common Law and at Statuary Law • Deal with issues of social concern and are designed to protect the publics health, safety or morals,
Gammon Tests for Strict Liability Gammon Hong Kong Ltd V Attorney General Hong Kong sets out factors to be considered:- • Presumption in favour if mens rea applies to statutory offences • The presumption can only be displaced if this is clearly or by necessary implication the effect of the words in the statute • The presumption is particularly strong where the offence is truly criminal character • The presumption can only be displaced if the statute is concerned with an issue of social concern such as public safety • Strict liability should only apply if it will help enforce the law by encouraging greater vigilance to prevent the commission of the prohibited act
No defences • Absolute Liability – Larsenour 1932 • No defence of mistake • Harrow LBC V Shah and Shah 1999 • No defence of due diligence • Callow V Tillstone 1900
Why are offences of Strict Liability Important? • No mens Rea required- Prince 1875 and Hibbert 1869 • Often regulatory- only 4 at common law (public nuisance, criminal libel, blasphemous libel, criminal contempt of court) • In interest of public safety • Designed to protect society by regulation of activities (health, safety morals) • Absolute Liability Larsonneur 1933 • No knowledge of act is not a defence Harlow LBC v Shah and Shah1993- however Sherras v De Rutzen 1895 • No Fault not a defence Callow V Tillstone (1900) • Mistake not a defence (Cundy v LE Coco 1884) • Taking all reasonable steps to prevent offence not a defence. • However defence of due diligence allowed by parliament (inconsistent) Defendant must show he has done all with in his power not to commit offence
Problems • Deciding if offence is one of strict liability • Consistency • Changes in public attitudes e.g homosexuality • Statute may say what mens rea is required • No mention of Mens Rea court will presume mens rea required, then look at lots of other points to see if it will stand • Truly Criminal offences • Gammon tests
For • Public should be protected from unscrupulous traders • Encourages high standards from businesses and employers • Businesses and employers know where they are • Courts can deal with cases quickly
Summary • D must be proved to have done the actus reus (AR) • Must be a voluntary act on his part (except absolute liability) • Mens rea not required for at least part of AR • Mainly applies in offences set down by statute. • Offences designed to protect large sectors of the community. • E.g. not selling cigarettes to people under 16 • Defence of ‘Due diligence’ may be available
Offences with strict liability are • Designed to protect the public at large • Protect health, safety and morels • Mainly created by statute • 4 at common law (Public nuisance, Criminal libel, Blasphemous libel, criminal contempt of court) • Reflect changes in society attitudes Lemon V Gay News Ltd 1979
Task Look at the following cases, give brief outline of the case and explain they key points. Sweet V Parsley 1969 Storkwain 1986 Harrow LBC V Shah and Shah 1999 Quasi-criminal offences B V DPP 2000 Blake 1997 Lim Chin Aik V The Queen 1963 Gammon Hong Kong Ltd V Attorney General Hong Kong Lemon and Whitehouse v Gay news 1979
Sweet V Parsley 1969 • D was a school teacher who let out rooms in her home to students. • The students had the property to themselves for the most part. Although she had a room in the house and sometimes stayed over night. • The students were users of cannabis and other drugs. • D was convicted under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965 of running a premises for the use of illegal drugs. • The case eventually went to H of L where conviction overturned. Law Lords decided that direct knowledge of the illegal drug taking on the premises was required
Callow V Tillstone 1900 • A butcher had contacted a vet to ask his professional opinion on a piece of meat. • The vet stated that the meat was fit for consumption but this was found not to be untrue. • Although the butcher had gone to some trouble to verify the state of the meat he was still found guilty.
Questions • Think of three offences which could be strict liability offences. Why do you think they are offences of strict liability? • Would cases prosecuted by RSPCA be truly criminal or quasi- criminal. • Why is it difficult for Judges to decide if an offence is one of strict liability. • Which case gives 5 steps to help Judges decide if a case is one of strict liability? • What are the five steps? • (strict liability)
Task James is the landlord of the Fleece Public house, he has told all staff to ask anyone they consider to be under 21 for ID before they serve them. Later on the same night Jane, 17 who has been drinking alcohol in the Fleece, She is later stopped by police for drunken behaviour when asked how old she is, she says 18 but her ID shows she is actually 17. The police charge the landlord with serving alcohol to a person under age. Is this an offence of strict liability? If so explain why. Which cases help explain your answer.
Task(con’t) • Upon further enquiry the police discover that Jane had been asked to provide ID by the bar staff and she had produced forged ID which said she was 20 year old. • In light of the above is the Landlord guilty of an offence? Give reasons for your answer. • Which cases help justify your answer
Exam Questions • Critically consider the circumstances in which the imposition of strict liability is justified in criminal law (OCR, Unit 2571, June 2004) • The law presumes that mens rea is always required in criminal offences, unless it is clear that parliament intended an offence to be one of strict liability. Discuss (WJEC LW5 June 2005
Extension Task • Create a table of the cases which have developed the case law on offences of strict liability? • Make notes of the key points of each case. • Create a timeline of cases on strict liability.
Offences of Strict Liability Which of the following offences will be ones of strict liability Causing death by reckless driving Wearing a seat belt Driving with due care and attention
Homework Read Pgs 45-54 of Criminal Law For A2, Jacqueline Martin, Read hand outs on Participation for next lesson. Bring hand out to class
Plenary • When do the prosecution not have to show the D had the necessary mens rea . • How do you know when a case is one of strict liability • What will the prosecution need to show for D to be guilty of an offence of strict liability • Why do cases of strict liability exist • Have we met our objectives?