Absolute liability is a standard of
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tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

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of various legal jurisdictions. To be convicted of an ordinary crime, in certain jurisdictions, a person must not only have committed a criminal action but also have had a deliberate intention or guilty mind (''mens rea''). In a crime of
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or absolute liability, a person could be guilty even if there was no intention to commit a crime. The difference between strict and absolute liability is whether the defence of a “mistake of fact” is available: in a crime of absolute liability, a mistake of fact is not a defence. Strict or absolute liability can also arise from inherently dangerous activities or defective products that are likely to result in a harm to another, regardless of protection taken, such as owning a pet rattle snake; negligence is not required to be proven.


The Australian Criminal Code Act 1995 defines absolute liability in Division 86, subsection 2: Regulatory bodies tend to favour the approach of declaring offences to be strict or absolute liability, because it makes it easier to prosecute people: there is no longer a requirement to demonstrate that the defendant was deliberately intending to commit an offence. Jurists consider such a mechanism to be a blunt instrument, and recommend its use only in limited circumstances:


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, absolute liability is one of three types of criminal or regulatory offences. In ''R. v. City of Sault Ste-Marie'', the Supreme Court of Canada defined an absolute liability offence as an offence "where it is not open to the accused to exculpate himself by showing that he was free of fault." This can be compared to a strict liability (criminal), strict liability offence (where an accused can raise the defence of due diligence) and ''mens rea'' offences (where the prosecutor has to prove that the accused had some positive state of mind). Generally, criminal offences are presumed to be ''mens rea'' offences, and regulatory offences are presumed to be strict liability offences. Therefore, most offences are not absolute liability offences, and usually will require an explicit statement in the statute.''R. v. City of Sault Ste. Marie''
, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 1299 (S.C.C.) at 1325 To determine if an offence is an absolute liability offence, the courts must look at: The combination of an absolute liability offence and the possible sentence of jail violates Section Seven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 7 of the ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'' and is unconstitutional. Specifically, jail violates a person's liberty and an absolute liability offence is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. (See ''Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act''.)


In India, absolute liability is a standard of tort liability that stipulates: In other words, absolute liability is strict liability without any exception. That liability standard has been laid down by the Indian Supreme Court in ''M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Oleum Gas Leak Case)''. The exceptions include the following: The Indian Judiciary tried to make a strong effort following the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, December, 1984 (Union Carbide Company vs. Union of India) to enforce greater amount of protection to the Public. The Doctrine of Absolute Liability was therefore evolved in Oleum Gas Leak Case and can be said to be a strong legal tool against rogue corporations that were negligent towards health risks for the public. This legal doctrine was much more powerful than the legal Doctrine of Strict Liability developed in the case of English tort law ''Rylands v Fletcher'' [1868]. This meant that the defaulter could be held liable for even third party errors when the public was at a realistic risk. This could ensure stricter compliance to standards that were meant to safeguard the public.


{{DEFAULTSORT:Absolute Liability Canadian law Public liability Law in India