Consultation on change to RIP interception definition

Peter Fairbrother zenadsl6186 at
Wed Nov 10 10:27:45 GMT 2010

Francis Davey wrote:
> On 9 November 2010 23:15, Peter Fairbrother <zenadsl6186 at> wrote:
>> I don't think that was or is the real deficiency in interception law - the
>> problem is more in a lack of enforcement. However as they will change 3(1)
>> no matter what the consultation says (in my experience when they put out a
>> consultation they have already mostly decided what they are going to do), I
>> first ask whether the proposed change makes it a strict liability offence?
> Not if section 1 (the substantive offence) remains the same, eg s1(1):
> "(1)It shall be an offence for a person intentionally and without
> lawful authority to intercept, at any place in the United Kingdom, any
> communication in the course of its transmission by means of—"
> The phrase "intentionally" is the required mental state. 

I don't understand that.

Suppose the action was intentional in that the person making it knew it 
would be an interception, rather than a mistake which had the effect of 
intercepting, is that enough for the "intentional" bit?

And then if the person making the action had a good but mistaken reason 
to believe it was legal - is he then guilty?

> The change to
> 3 would mean that absence of lawful authority under 3 would be a
> strict element.

Or does that mean if the reason above was eg a mistaken belief that 
permission had been granted under 3(1), but in fact it had not, then he 
is automatically guilty?

No mens rea required, so it's pretty nearly a strict liability offence? 
Does there have to be language in the revised 3 to make it so, or is 
mens rea assumed?


-- Peter Fairbrother

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