Is There a Case for Strict Liability?

24 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2017

See all articles by Larry Alexander

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: 2017


In this short paper, I shall answer the title’s question first in the context of criminal law and then in the context of tort law. In that latter section I shall also mention in passing contractual and other forms of civil liability that are strict, although they will not be my principal focus. My conclusions will be that strict liability is never proper as the basis for retributive punishment; that it is a very crude device for achieving deterrence through nonretributive penalties; and that with respect to tort liability, it is best justified as a means of defining insurance categories.

Keywords: strict liability, retributivism, deterrence, negligence, torts

JEL Classification: A00, A10, K10, K13

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lawrence, Is There a Case for Strict Liability? (2017). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 17-281, Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence Alexander (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-2317 (Phone)
619-260-4728 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics