Strict liability makes a person responsible for the damage and loss caused by
his/her acts and omissions regardless of culpability (or fault in criminal lawterms,
which would normally be expressed through a
requirement; see Strict
liability (criminal)). Strict liability is important in torts (especiallyproduct
liability), corporations law, and criminal law. For analysis of the pros and cons of
strict liability as applied to product liability, the most important strict liability
regime, see product liability.
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 plaintiff needs to prove only that
the tort happened and that the defendant was responsible. Strict liability is imposed
for legal infractions that are malum prohibitum rather thanmalum in se, therefore,
neither good faith nor the fact that the defendant took all possible precautions are
valid defenses. Strict liability often applies to those engaged in hazardous or
inherently dangerous ventures.
Strict liability is distinct from absolute liability. In absolute liability, only a guilty act,
or actus reus is required. With strict liability, a guilty act is only required also no
Mens Rea in needed to be proved. In strict liability situations, although the plaintiff
does not have to prove fault, the defendant can raise a defense of absence of fault.
A classic example of strict liability is the owner of a tiger rehabilitation center. No
matter how strong the tiger cages are, if an animal escapes and causes damage
and injury, the owner is held liable. Another example is a contractor hiring
a demolition subcontractor that lacks proper insurance. If the subcontractor makes
a mistake, the contractor is strictly liable for any damage that occurs.
The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous.
It discourages reckless behavior and needless loss by forcing potential defendants
to take every possible precaution. It also has the effect of simplifying litigation and
allowing the victim to become whole more quickly.
The doctrine's most famous advocates were Learned Hand, Benjamin Cardozo,
and Roger J. Traynor.
In English and Welsh law, where tortious liability is strict, the defendant will often
only be liable for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of his or her act or
omission (as in nuisance).
The concept of strict liability is also found in criminal law, though to a lesser extent.
Strict liability often applies to vehicular traffic offenses. In a speeding case, for
example, whether the defendant knew he or she was exceeding the posted speed
limit is irrelevant. The prosecutor would need only prove that the defendant was
indeed operating the vehicle in excess of the speed limit.
Strict liability laws can also prevent defendants from raising diminished mental capa