B1.11.4 Strict Liability


The distinguishing feature of crimes of strict liability is the absence of Mens Rea, The Latin term “Mens rea” means, in a UK legal context: “guilty state of mind”.

The prosecution is not required to prove the defendant intended the consequences of his actions or even foresaw them.

It could be considered to be a case of ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

The vast majority of strict liability crimes are statutory offences. However, statutes do not state explicitly that a particular offence is one of strict liability.

Where a statute uses terms such as “knowingly” or “recklessly” then the offence being created is one that requires Mens Rea. Alternatively, it may make it clear that an offence of strict liability is being created. In many cases it will be a matter for the courts to interpret the statute and decide whether Mens Rea is required or not.