Q&As

Is an offence under section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 a strict liability offence?

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Published on LexisPSL on 23/05/2017

The following Corporate Crime Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Is an offence under section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 a strict liability offence?

Is an offence under section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 a strict liability offence?

Many of the common environmental offences impose strict liability on the actions of a defendant. When an offence does not require proof of a mental element, or where no fault element is required in relation to one element of the actus reus but where mens rea is required in relation to other aspects, it is an offence of strict liability. In order to secure a conviction for a strict liability offence the only thing which needs to be proven is the act or omission which forms part of the offence and there is no need to prove any negligence or fault on the part of the defendant. See Practice Note: Strict liability.

The justifications for imposing strict liability for environmental crimes include:

  1. it is in the public interest to do so

  2. it acts as a deterrent so that those who have to comply with the law do not take risks, and

  3. it makes it easier for regulators to enforce and prosecute environmental offences

The fact that an offence is one of strict liability may be expressly stated in the statute or will arise by implication as the effect of the statute. Where the statute is silent, applying Sweet v Parsley, the courts will start from the presumption that Parliament did not

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