There are, however, circumstances where a person is made responsible irrespective of the existence of either wrongful intention or negligence, forming exceptions to the maxim quoted above. They are termed as wrongs of absolute liability, which fall into three divisions, viz., Mistake of Law, Mistake of Fact and Accident.
(1) Mistake of Law:
The cardinal principle of law is expressed by the maxim ignorant juris non excused, viz., ignorance of law does not excuse. When a person has committed an offence or wrong, it is no defence to say that he did not know the law. Everyone is presumed to know the law of the land. The consideration governing the knowledge of law in every man is based on the following grounds:
(a) The law is certain, definite and knowable and it is the duty of every person lo know at least part of the law which concerns him.
(b) It would be most difficult to prove ignorance of law and its recognition by courts almost impossible, even if it be possible for a person to be ignorant of it.
(C) The law is in most instances in harmony with the rules of natural justice.
The above rules, though sound in general, cannot be accepted as universally true, for it is almost impossible to know all the laws of the land and the law in some cases is also divorced from natural justice.
(2) Mistake of Fact:
Ignorantia facti excusal, i.e., ignorance of the fact is a good excuse. In English law mistake of fact is a complete defence from liability in criminal law, but in civil law it is no excuse. If 1 trespass on another man’s land believing it to be my own, I am liable for trespass, even though it is a mistake of fact.
To the general rule that a mistake of fact is a complete defence to criminal liability in English law, there is one exception. That is provided by the liability of a person who abducts a girl under the legal age of consent. Mistake as to her age is no excuse, as the act of taking the girl away is itself wrongful.
(3) Inevitable Accident:
Inevitable accident is commonly regarded by the English law as a good defense. An act is done cither intentionally or by accident or by mistake. In the case of an act done by accident the consequences are not intended, while in the ease of an act done by mistake the consequences are, no doubt, intended but there is a mistake of fact as lo the circumstances o the ease, e.g., when I get the property of a wrong person attached by mistake.