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A Comparison Between Strict and Absolute Liability

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COMPARISON BETWEEN STRICT AND ABSOLUTE LIABILITY
THE CONCEPT OF STRICT LIABILITY
There are many activities which are so dangerous that they constitute constant danger to person and property to others. The law may deal with them in two ways. It may prohibit them altogether. It may allow them to be carried on for the sake of social utility but only in accordance with statutory provisions laying down safety measures and providing for sanctions for non-compliance through the doctrine of strict liability. The undertakers of the activities have to compensate for the damage caused irrespective of any carelessness on their part. The basis of liability is the foreseeable risk inherent in the very nature of the activities. In this aspect, the principle of strict liability resembles negligence which is also based on foreseeable harm. But the difference lies in that the concept of negligence comprehends that the foreseeable harm could be avoided by taking reasonable precautions and so if the defendant did all that which could be done for avoiding the harm, he cannot be held liable except possibly in those cases where he should have closed down the undertaking. Such a consideration is not relevant in cases of strict liability where the defendant is held liable irrespective of whether he could have avoided the particular harm by taking precautions. The rationale behind strict liability is that the activities coming within its fold are those entailing extraordinary risk to others, either in the seriousness or the frequency of the harm threatened.
ORIGIN OF THE STRICT LIABILITY RULE
The Strict Liability rule had its origins in nuisance but for most of the 20th century was probably regarded by the majority of lawyers as having developed into a distinct principle. Now it seems to have returned to what are regarded as its roots: it is a “sub species of nuisance”. But on balance it…...

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