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MikeThePlayer

'Strict liability'

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Under the new law proposals unveiled by Jacqui Smith, paying for sex with a woman "controlled for another's gain" will become a "strict liability offence" in England and Wales, meaning prosecutors will not have to prove that the man knew a prostitute was being exploited in order to charge him. (For reference, for example, see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/men-targeted-for-buying-sex-with-slaves-1025039.html.)

I was wondering what this meant, and found the following Wikipedia article useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strict_liability_(criminal)

Interestingly the article states that

Under the common law the rule is that crimes require proof of mens rea except in cases of public nuisance, criminal and blasphemous libel, and criminal contempt of court.

(Here, mens rea means guilty mind.)

For the case at hand, i.e. unknowingly having sex with a WG who turns out not to be a genuine independent, I can't see how this can be classified as a public nuisance (if it's discreetly done indoors), criminal and blasphemous libel, or criminal contempt of court. Therefore, the proposed law appears to be against the Common Law of England.

I wonder what the Law Lords have to say on this...

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