Christopher Sherrin, “Wilful Blindness: A Confused and Unnecessary Basis for Criminal Liability?”

Working Abstract

In this paper, the author questions the usefulness of the concept of wilful blindness in Canadian criminal law. Analysis of the jurisprudence demonstrates that in most cases it is the functional equivalent of recklessness. It is also inconsistently and unclearly defined, lacking some important elements, and subject to significant problems of proof. The author argues that nothing compels us to retain the concept of wilful blindness and that there are particular dangers in doing so. The law would be simpler, more coherent and probably just as effective if it relied on a flexible concept of recklessness.

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