When rape is an offence of strict liability

Sunday 22 June 2008 at 8:27 am | In News | Post Comment

R v G [2008] HL
It is a strict liability offence for a boy to have intercourse with a girl under 13. Parliament has said (Sexual Offences Act 2003) that if the girl is under 13 it is rape. It is rape because being under 13 she cannot in law consent to sexual activity; sex with someone who does not consent is rape.

Therefore, when a 15-year-old boy had sex with a 12-year-old girl who told him she was 15, it mattered not that he thought she was over 13; the offence was one of strict liability. His appeal was that strict liability in such circumstances was contrary to the right to a fair trial (Article 6) failed in the House of Lords this week.

The House of Lords ruled by 3:2 that the case had nothing to do with human rights.

Giving the lead speech Lord Hoffmann said that the fairness of national provisions was not a matter for Article 6 and that the case was “another example of the regrettable tendency to try to convert the whole system of justice into questions of human rights”.

Lord Hope and Lord Carswell spoke of balancing the rights of those concerned: the protection of children against sexual assault, and taking account of circumstances where young offenders are prosecuted. The sentence in this case possibly reflects this underlying concern; the judge gave the boy a 12-month conditional discharge, not the life imprisonment that was available.

The view that a defining quality of strict liability offences is that they are often quasi-offences, linked to modest penalties, may need to be qualified.

Proportion of top Law degrees has increased since 1987

Tuesday 17 June 2008 at 10:15 pm | In News | 1 Comment

A new study reveals that although there is some evidence of inflation in the level of law degrees being awarded by UK universities there is a great deal of variation between institutions.

Relying on information provided by UK universities following a request under the Freedom of Information Acts 2000 and 2002, Norman Baird and Clive Campbell Smith have compared the awards of students graduating with LLBs in 1987, 1997 and 2007.

Not all the universities held the information requested and a few are yet to provide it. Based on the information received to date, the largest increases in the proportion of firsts and upper seconds awarded between 1997 and 2007 range between 52.7% at Plymouth University and 541% at Wolverhampton University. At a number of universities the percentage of first class and upper seconds class awards has decreased over the same period. The largest relative decrease was at Greenwich where the proportion of firsts and upper seconds awarded to graduates in 2007 was less than 50% of that awarded in 1997.

Roughly half of the universities were able to provide data relating to 1987. Of those the largest increases in the proportion of firsts and upper seconds awarded between 1987 and 2007 were at Southampton Solent (496.4%), Exeter (196.1%) and Manchester Met (148.1%). The smallest increases were at Nottingham (0.4%), Warwick (24.9%) and Oxford (30.4%). The only University reporting a decrease was London Metropolitan where the proportion of firsts and upper seconds in 2007 was 22.3% lower than in1987.

To read the results please visit http://qedlaw.wordpress.com

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