A person who suffers damage or injury from the bad acts and even accidents of others can seek financial remedies in civil court. This article discusses civil liability. For information about criminal liability, see our article on Criminal Liability. Criminal A civil action is a lawsuit filed by a private person not the government against another private person.
The issue of criminal liability for encouraging or assisting another person to commit an offence is a complex and difficult area. The issue is important because it is commonly the case that criminal offences involve two or more participants, only some of whom are the actual perpetrators of the offence.
The principal is the person or persons who commit the actus reus of the offence. There may be joint principals, for example, where P1 and P2 attack V. Secondary parties provide assistance or encouragement to the principal or principals.
The starting point is section 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act This provides that whoever shall aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of any indictable offence shall be liable to be tried, indicted and punished as a principal offender.
Historically the position at common law was that aiders and abettors were said to be principals in the second degree and were actually or constructively present at the time the offence was committed by the principal. By contrast, counsellors and procurers were accessories before the fact whose presence at the time of the offence was not necessary.
The current position is that the four varieties of conduct overlap and they cover any form of assistance or encouragement. The position in relation to summary offences is governed by the Magistrates' Courts Actsection 44, which is in all material respects identical to section 8.
There are three important points to note about section 8: It reflects the common law principle that aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring another person to commit an offence is not itself a distinct offence. The secondary party is himself guilty of the offence committed by the principal and liable to the same penalties.
It is the principal's offence for which D is liable. For example, D encourages P to murder V. P stabs V intending to kill or cause serious bodily harm. Both D and P are guilty of murder and subject to the mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life.
Secondary parties may be liable for P's crime even though they do not themselves satisfy the actus reus conduct element or mens rea fault element of P's offence. It proceeds on the basis that the criminal liability of secondary parties is the same for every offence.
Thus, while the definition of every offence will stipulate what the principal must do to incur liability, secondary liability is based on common law principles and applies to every offence. It collapses the distinction between perpetrators and other participants. This has obvious procedural and other evidential advantages.
Amongst other things it enables the prosecution to obtain a conviction even if it cannot be proved whether D was acting as a principal or accessory. For example, D1 and D2 are charged with bank robbery. They can be convicted even if it is not known who entered the bank and, using the threat of force, stole the money the principal and who drove the getaway car the accessory.
It has been held by the Court of Appeal that there is no violation of Article 6 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights when the prosecution alleges that D is party to an offence but cannot specify his precise role: Because the common law principle is that aiding and abetting etc.
This derivative aspect of secondary party liability was reflected in the old common law rule that before D could be liable as a secondary party it was necessary first to convict and sentence P. Thus, if P was not apprehended or died or was pardoned, D could not be tried.
This is no longer the case. It is, however, necessary to prove that an offence was committed by P. If D encourages P to commit an offence, D incurs no liability at common law if, subsequently, P for whatever reason does not go on to commit or attempt to commit the offence.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.
Bibliography • initiativeblog.com • initiativeblog.com • initiativeblog.com Brown et al, Criminal Laws: Materials and Commentary on Criminal Law and Process in New South Wales, (5th edition, Federation Press, ), pp. ; Absolute liability Rationale: requiring proof of actual state of mind of accused at the time of actus reus would impose an onerous burden on the prosecution.
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civil law. Strict Liability is most commonly seen in dog bite cases, and product liability lawsuits for defectively manufactured products. In dog bites the owner of the dog is responsible or liable even if it was the first bite and the bite was provoked by the bitten person and the dog is restrained in a yard or home.
Strict Liability: Absolute Liability (modified version of Strict Liability) 1. The nature and quantum of damages that are payable to the plaintiffs are compensatory in nature i.e. in accordance to the amount of loss suffered by the plaintiff, damages will be paid equivalent to the amount lost.
other types of legal wrongs such as torts, breaches of contract, and the like. which may result in punishment’: G Williams, Textbook of Criminal Law (2nd edn, ) that the former are prosecuted through criminal as opposed to non-criminal proceedings.
or legislatures choose to describe as such.