Strict Liability: An Immoral and Unjust Standard of Responsibility?
During the past century, strict liability has been gradually increasing in value. It has been traditionally imposed when damage is occurred by trespassing livestock, or by any vicious animals. Strict liability generally means liability without fault, that is, without intention or negligence. Ever since after the landmark judgement of Rylands versus Fletcher, today, many courts have imposed strict liability for abnormally dangerous or ultra-hazardous activities. During the formative years of the common law, the theories of strict liability were dominant in nature. But it was in the nineteenth century that there was an express and decided shift. Accidents do occur, and sometimes, the personal property is damaged and lost altogether. The social and personal costs of these accidents are really very staggering in nature. Especially, the question that who will actually bear these costs has actually become a topic for discussion. This is perhaps because the answer is so obvious. At least the nontrivial accidents are ought to be borne by those at fault in causing these accidents. At one time, the requirement of fault was so deeply rooted in the concept of personal responsibility, that in the famous case of Ives versus South Buffalo, it was strongly argued by Judge Werner that any liability without fault is not only immoral in nature, but it is also an unconstitutional violation of the due process of law. This article will basically emphasize on how strict liability is an unjust or immoral standard of responsibility in Torts and what that immorality is not and what it might be. In this article, I strongly defend the doctrine of strict liability as a philosophically interesting default rule which lays the groundwork for a healthier moral cooperative relation between the contracting parties than a fault-based system would.