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In
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
and
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, strict liability is a standard of
liability Liability may refer to: Law * Legal liability, in both civil and criminal law ** Public liability, part of the law of tort which focuses on civil wrongs ** Product liability, the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retai ...
under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of
fault Fault commonly refers to: *Fault (geology), planar rock fractures showing evidence of relative movement *Fault (law), blameworthiness or responsibility Fault(s) may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * "Fault", a song by Taproot from ...

fault
or criminal intent on the part of the defendant. In the field of
torts A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person ...
, prominent examples of strict liability may include
product liability Product liability is the area of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envir ...
, abnormally dangerous activities (e.g., blasting), intrusion onto another's land by
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
, and ownership of wild animals. Traditional criminal offenses that require no element of intent (
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law Latin Law Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In every ...
) include
statutory rape In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' ...
and
felony murder The rule of felony murder is a legal doctrine Doctrine (from la, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings i ...
.


Tort law

In tort law, strict liability is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault (such as negligence or tortious intent). The claimant need only prove that the tort occurred and that the defendant was responsible. The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous. It discourages reckless behaviour and needless loss by forcing potential defendants to take every possible precaution. It has the beneficial effect of simplifying and thereby expediting court decisions in these cases, although the application of strict liability may seem unfair or harsh, as in ''
Re Polemis ''Re Polemis & Furness, Withy & Co Ltd'' (1921) is an English tort case on causation and remoteness in the law of negligence. The Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Court of Appeal held that a defendant can be deemed liable for all consequ ...
''. Under the
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than br ...

negligence
and
nuisance Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a common law tort. It means that which causes offence, annoyance, trouble or injury. A nuisance can be either public (also "common") o ...
, even where tortious liability is strict, the defendant may sometimes be liable only for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of his act or omission. An early example of strict liability is the rule ''
Rylands v FletcherRylands is an English surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Dadie Rylands (1902–1999), British literary scholar and theatre director * Dave Rylands (born 1953), English footballer * Enriqueta Augustina Rylands (1843–1908), English ...
'', where it was held that "any person who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape". If the owner of a zoo keeps lions and tigers, he is liable if the big cats escape and cause damage or injury. In strict liability situations, although the plaintiff does not have to prove fault, the defendant can raise a defense of absence of fault, especially in cases of
product liability Product liability is the area of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envir ...
, where the defense may argue that the defect was the result of the plaintiff's actions and not of the product, that is, no inference of defect should be drawn solely because an accident occurs. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant ''knew'' about the defect before the damages occurred, additional
punitive Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of soci ...
damages can be awarded to the victim in some jurisdictions. The doctrine's most famous advocates were
Learned Hand Billings Learned Hand (; January 27, 1872 – August 18, 1961) was an American judge and Legal philosophy, judicial philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court ...
,
Benjamin Cardozo Benjamin () was the last-born of Jacob's thirteen children (12 sons and one daughter), and the second and last son of Rachel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He was the progenitor of the Israelites, Israelite Tribe of Benjamin. In the ...

Benjamin Cardozo
, and
Roger J. Traynor
Roger J. Traynor
. Strict liability is sometimes distinguished from
absolute liability Absolute liability is a standard of legal liability found in tort and criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property ...
. In this context, an ''actus reus'' may be excused from strict liability if
due diligence Due diligence is the investigation or exercise of care that a reasonable business or person is normally expected to take before entering into an agreement or contract with another party or an act with a certain standard of care Standard may re ...
is proved. Absolute liability, however, requires only an ''
actus reus ''Actus reus'' (), sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...
''.


Vaccines

In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
courts have applied strict liability to
vaccines A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active to a particular . A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or o ...
since the Cutter incident in 1955. Some vaccines (eg. for
Lyme disease Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a vector-borne disease caused by the ''Borrelia'' bacterium which is spread by ticks in the genus ''Ixodes''. The most common sign of infection is an expanding red rash, known as erythema migrans ...
) have been removed from the market because of unacceptable liability risk to the manufacturer. The
National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34) was signed into law by United States President Ronald Reagan Ronald Wilson Reagan ( ; February 6, 1911June 5, 2004) was an American politician ...
(NCVIA) was enacted in 1986 to make an exception for childhood vaccines that are required for public school attendance. The NCVIA created a no-fault compensation scheme to stabilize a vaccine market adversely affected by an increase in vaccine-related lawsuits, and to facilitate compensation to claimants who found pursuing legitimate vaccine-inflicted injuries too difficult and cost prohibitive.


Bicycle–motor vehicle collisions

A form of strict liability has been supported in law in the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...
since the early 1990s for bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. In a nutshell, this means that, in a collision between a car and a cyclist, the driver is deemed to be liable to pay
damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary ...
and his insurer (''n.b.'' motor vehicle insurance is mandatory in the Netherlands, while cyclist insurance is not) must pay the full damages, as long as 1) the collision was ''unintentional'' (i.e. neither party, motorist or cyclist, intentionally crashed into the other), and 2) the cyclist was not in error in some way. Even if a cyclist made an error, ''as long as the collision was still unintentional'', the motorist's insurance must still pay half of the damages. This does not apply if the cyclist is under 14 years of age, in which case the motorist must pay full damages for unintentional collisions with minors. If it can be proved that a cyclist ''intended'' to collide with the car, then the cyclist must pay the damages (or their parents in the case of a minor.).


General aviation

The trend toward strict liability in the United States during the mid to late 20th century nearly destroyed the small aircraft industry by the mid 1990s. Production had dropped from a peak of 18,000 units per year in 1978 to under only a few hundred by 1993. With a concurrent increase in the cost of liability insurance per airplane rising from $50 in 1962 to $100,000 in 1988, and many underwriters had begun to refuse all new policies.


Criminal law

The concept of strict liability is also found in criminal law, though the same or similar concept may appear in contexts where the term itself is not used. Strict liability often applies to vehicular traffic offenses: in a speeding case, for example, whether the defendant knew that the posted speed limit was being exceeded is irrelevant; the prosecutor need only prove that the defendant was driving the vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit. In the United States, strict liability can be determined by looking at the intent of the legislature. If the legislature seems to have purposefully left out a mental state element (''mens rea'') because they felt mental state need not be proven, it is treated as a strict liability. However, when a statute is silent as to the mental state (''mens rea'') and it is not clear that the legislature purposely left it out, the ordinary presumption is that a mental state is required for criminal liability. When no ''mens rea'' is specified, under the
Model Penal CodeThe Model Penal Code (MPC) is a model act designed to stimulate and assist U.S. state legislatures to update and standardize the penal law of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United Stat ...
(MPC), the default ''mens rea'' requirement is recklessness, which the MPC defines as "when a person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk with respect to a material element". Strict liability laws can also prevent defendants from raising diminished mental capacity defenses, since intent does not need to be proven. In the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
case of '' Sweet v Parsley'' 1970, it was held that where a statute creating a crimeThe statutory crime of "being concerned in the management of premises used for smoking cannabis". made no reference to intention, then ''
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law Latin Law Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In every ...
'' would be imputed by the court, so that the crime would not be one of strict liability.


See also

*
Command responsibility Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the legal doctrine A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often estab ...
*
Due diligence Due diligence is the investigation or exercise of care that a reasonable business or person is normally expected to take before entering into an agreement or contract with another party or an act with a certain standard of care Standard may re ...
*
Public liability Public liability is part of the law of tort which focuses on civil wrongs. An applicant (the injured party) usually sues the respondent (the owner or occupier) under common law based on negligence and/or damages. Claims are usually successful whe ...
* Restatement of Torts, Second *
Vicarious liability Vicarious liability is a form of a strict In mathematical Mathematics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country l ...


References

{{Authority control Public liability