The Distinction between Negligence and Strict Liability

Strict liability should not be applicable in certain circumstances. In other words, strict liability should be limited to some level. For instance, it is pertinent to mention that one of the common general legal principles is negligence. However, strict liability is comprised of specific legal doctrines. The concept may also entail the ‘third restatement’ (Baumann, Friehe & Grechenig, 2011). The latter is a type of liability which is unified. The assertion made by the ‘third restatement’ principle alleges that a collection of special cases can be used to build strict liability. Characteristic risk and the notion of liability portray a particular concept that should be legally interpreted in the most appropriate manner. Actors who are responsible for injuries are usually held by the fault principle. Nonetheless, actors are only liable for injuries that emanate from their respective agencies when strict liability is applied. The doer ought to bear the losses according the concept of strict liability. This can be quite different when compared to the concept of fault liability. The latter leaves the burden of responsibility to the agency that has committed the mistake. The principle basis of responsibility is directed to the concerned agency according to the concept of strict liability. Hence, it can be seen that there is a narrow difference between the two notions.

The contemporary distinction in the application of strict liability is mainly envisioned when the benchmark of responsibility is left to the concerned agency. Strict liability also makes use of enterprise liability in contemporary legal practices. As a matter of fact, the theory of strict liability defines the entire concept of enterprise liability. The perspective assumed by the theory of strict criminal liability in the modern society is quite different from that of the strict conventional liability (Duff, 2009). The traditional interpretation of strict liability asserts that perpetrators should act at their own risk. Individuals who gain when risks are imposed should be accountable to expenses incurred during accidents according to the modern strict liability. To some extent, legal experts may be permitted to argue that enterprise liability borrows a lot of ideals from the modern concepts that underlie the notion of strict criminal liability.

The Law of Torts is believed to be the main origin of the enterprise liability. It is also vital to point out that ‘mens rea’ is not required when strict liability concept is put into effect (Baumann, Friehe & Grechenig, 2011). The justification of strict liability laws is quite clear in most cases. For instance, it points out that offenders deserve criminal punishment for all actions that go against legal provisions irrespective of their intentions. Perhaps, the implementation of strict liability laws is often meant to protect certain vulnerable groups such as minors and invalids. For example, selling drugs to minors and statutory rape cases are prosecuted using the strict liability laws. Even if the offender thought that the victim was above 21 years at the time of the act, it cannot be used as a defence in the corridors of justice.

Arguably, strict liability laws often appear ruthless or harsh. Nonetheless, the key tenet or theory that lies behind the modern application of strict liability is fundamental protection of vulnerable victims such as minors and old people. The law protects them because they are soft targets for law breakers.

Strict liability has not been condemned from all quarters. The author argues that utilitarian groups have indeed lauded the provisions of strict liability legislation contrary to ‘retributivists’. On the same note, the author observes that strict liability clause tends to penalise the blameless (Salvador-coderch, Garoupa & Gómez-ligüerre, 2009). The culpability-based ‘retributivism’ is apparently consistent with strict liability. ‘Retributivists’ condemn the concept of strict liability because it tends to ignore the inherent facts that may be prudent in the trial process. In other words, strict liability is a highly punitive and judgmental piece of legislation. Can strict liability be dismissed as an unfair theory in legislation?

In order to offer a conclusive response to the above question, it is necessary to put into account a number of factors. To begin with, strict liability should be grouped into different categories. In addition, it is equally important to consider the structure of criminal offenses. Moreover, the moral luck principle is a vital aspect in this discussion. The differences between standards and rules as well a poor grading system are some of the issues that are worth to consider in the process of appraising the strict liability theory.

To a greater extent, retributive theory has suffered a lot due to the ideals of the strict liability concept. Some scholars are apparently sceptical about the effectiveness of the strict liability notion. The writer describes the application of strict liability as a rather delicate challenge (Salvador-coderch, Garoupa & Gómez-ligüerre, 2009).

The trend towards the development of concepts of criminal behaviour and law as society advances has also been witnessed in the strict liability outcomes and circumstantial element. A typical example of strict liability based on outcomes is felony and murder. In other words, a committed felony may result into death. Therefore, the resultant death in this case is blamed on the felony. Generally, it appears as if the ‘felony’ intended to cause the death even though it might not be the exact reality. At this point, evidence should be used to attest that the action was intended. Unfortunately, proof of intent is hardly employed in almost all trials that adhere to strict liability ideology.

Strict liability and circumstance are also worth considering in this scenario. As already mentioned in the above analysis, statutory regulations can be used to fortify the provisions of strict liability. For instance, a certain age limit can be set by various governments in order to protect certain groups of individuals.

Strict liability should be viewed in terms of purity. This legal provision can be classified into pure and impure forms. Culpability is not required in a pure strict liability (Salvador-coderch, Garoupa & Gómez-ligüerre, 2009). On the other hand, a minimum of one material aspect is required in an impure strict liability. A typical case of an impure strict liability is the statutory rape law.

Finally, it is evident that motive plays an important role in the entire case scenario of the strict liability concept. An indirect method can be used to testify that a particular action was committed intentionally. For instance, a defendant may argue that he or she accidentally committed an offence. Hence, there was no direct intention to harm the plaintiff. It is necessary for the prosecution to come up with some solid circumstantial evidence before offering the final judgment. Evidence based on motive can be used by the prosecution to affirm whether the accused is guilty or innocent of the alleged offence. Moreover, the defendant can elude criminal liability if the prosecution does not have evidence that the perpetrator had a motive to commit the stated action. Nonetheless, the concept of strict liability does not allow such a legal bargain in most scenarios.


Baumann, F., Friehe, T., & Grechenig, K. (2011). A note on the optimality of (even more) incomplete strict liability. International Review of Law and Economics, 31(2), 77.

Duff, R. A. (2009). Strict responsibility, moral and criminal. Journal of Value Inquiry, 43(3), 295-313.

Salvador-coderch, P., Garoupa, N., & Gómez-ligüerre, C. (2009). Scope of liability: The vanishing distinction between negligence and strict liability. European Journal of Law and Economics, 28(3), 257-287.

Removal Request
A real student has written this essay about The Distinction between Negligence and Strict Liability and owns intellectual rights to it. If you plan to use this work for research purposes, make sure to include an according citation.
Request to Remove Content

If you are the content owner and don’t want it to be available on our website anymore, feel free to send us a removal request. We’ll fulfill it after reviewing.

Send the Request
Receive a free price quote