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Sweet v Parsley

[1970] AC 132

Case summary last updated at 15/01/2020 07:53 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Sweet v Parsley

A woman let out a farmhouse to people, without knowing that they were using drugs. Section 5 of Dangerous Drugs Act 1965 says that anyone managing the premises “used for the purpose” taking illegal drugs is guilty. She was convicted. The HL allowed her appeal. Lord Diplock claims that anyone who has undertaken to learn the facts and the law cannot be penalised without criminal intent, as it would be “contrary to a rational and civilised criminal code,” and he claims this must have been parliament’s intention. (He is basically denying the existence of strict liability crimes, despite the clear meaning of section b). A better argument is that the act makes liable anyone “concerned in the management of any premises used for the purpose…”etc. The purpose refers to the “management”, not the “drug taking”. “preparation for smoking opium” can only be referring to management since it is not actually the taking of a drug. 

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