LAW ESSAY

Topics: Criminal law, Law, English law Pages: 2 (589 words) Published: April 22, 2014
Strict liability offences do not require proof of mens rea in respect of at least one element of the actus reus, usually the essential one. However, proof of mens rea may be required for some of the elements of the actus reus. Absolute liability offences do not require proof of any mens rea element, but are satisfied by proof of the actus reus only.

Second, the distinction can be seen by examining the issue of causation

In strict liability, the prosecution is required to prove the causation of the actus reus and the offence. In Empress Car Co (Abertillery) Ltd v National Rivers Authority [1998] HL, the lordship said that, ‘While liability [for water pollution] is strict and therefore includes liability for certain deliberate acts of third parties … it is not an absolute liability in the sense that all that has to be shown is that the polluting matter escaped from the defendant’s land, irrespective of how this happened. It must still be possible to say that the defendant caused the pollution”.

In absolute liability, however, a crime may not require any causation link at all, if the specified 'state of affairs' exists. In Winzar v Chief Constable of Kent (1983), the defendant was removed from a hospital by police and was then arrested and found guilty of being drunk on the highway, even though the police officers had put him there. The court held that it was enough to show that D had been present on the highway and was perceived to be drunk. It didn’t matter that his presence on the highway was momentary and involuntary.

Third, it determines what defences are available to the defendant

Many academic papers differentiate strict and absolute liability offences by the availability of the defence of mistaken yet honest belief, a common law defence. Where they are available liability is strict, where it is not available liability is absolute.

The situation is made complex in case where defence are provided in the statue for the defendant to escape...
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