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Strict Liability

Posted on:9/4/2012
Is there a case for going beyond even the objective standard of negligence and making a defendant pay compensation even though he has not in any sense been at fault?


Is there a case for going beyond even the objective standard of negligence and making a defendant pay compensation even though he has not in any sense been at fault? Should the law sometimes impose what is called strict liability?

 

Criminal law, sometimes makes people pay fines for breaches of regulations designed to protect health, safety, the environment and other things of importance to society. It does this even though they neither intended harm nor were negligent in not preventing it. They are strictly liable without proof of fault.

 

It is generally thought to be for the public good and, if the fine is not too heavy, not unfair to fine people for breaking regulations even if they were not at fault. One reason is that breaches of regulations do not usually carry with them the public disgrace that crimes such as murder, theft and rape carry. In fact in some countries they are called by a different name, such as 'infringements' instead of 'crimes'. Most people, for instance, think no less of a person who commits a parking offence, unless it causes a serious obstruction.

 

Personal injury law, like criminal law, tend to make fault a condition of liability whenever possible. But in personal injury law, unlike criminal law, strict liability has, since the industrial revolution, become increasingly common when there is an accident in which someone is killed or injured. So a person may be held strictly liable for an injury though they have often not committed a wrong in any ordinary sense. Rather, they have exposed other people to a risk, and if harm results, it is thought to be fair and for the public good that they should bear the cost.


  
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