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Sweet v Parsley [1970] AC 132 House of Lords

A school teacher let her house out to students. The students were smoking cannabis in the house. She was unaware of this activity. She was charged with an offence of being concerned with the management of premises which were being used for the purposes of smoking cannabis contrary to s.5(6) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965. The statute did not state any requirement of mens rea of the offence.


The House of Lords looked at the common law before the statute was made. The common law required knowledge of the activities in order to impose liability. Thus the presumption that statutes do not change the common law was applied in addition to the presumption that mens rea is required where the offence is a true crime as oppose to a regulatory offence.
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