Since the introduction of the Fraud Act 2006 a decade ago, tackling white-collar crimes has remained a main priority for the UK enforcement authorities. The sentences handed down to those convicted of fraud offences can be severe and have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods, and the reputation, of those involved.
Fraud is a prolific multibillion pound global crime. It can take place in any number of ways, in a variety of personal situations or in any size of business. If you find yourself or your business at the centre of a fraud allegation, it is vital that you get in touch with a specialist lawyer without delay. At Janes Solicitors our extensive experience, technical expertise and proven track record in defending fraud charges allow us to provide our clients with the best possible chance of avoiding the serious and life changing consequences of a fraud conviction.
The Law on Fraud in the UK
The essential key elements in fraud charges are dishonesty and intention, or in cases of possession and participation, actually possessing or participating.
Fraud offences are now largely charged under the Fraud Act 2006 although some offences remain listed under the Theft Act 1968 and under common law.
The Fraud Act 2006 covers a number of offences, including:
- Fraud by abuse of position;
- Fraud by failing to disclose information;
- Fraud by false representation;
- Possession of articles for use in fraud;
- Making or supplying articles for use in frauds;
- Participating in fraudulent business carried on by sole trader etc;
- Obtaining services dishonestly
The classic test for dishonesty since 1982 was previously known as the ‘Ghosh’ test (R v Ghosh  EWCA Crim 2). On 25th October 2017 the test for dishonestly was clarified by the Supreme Court in the case of Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd (t/a Crockfords)  UKSC 67. You can read the full judgment here.
After a detailed discussion of the case law prior to Ghosh, the Supreme Court concluded (at paragraph 74) that the correct approach to determine dishonesty is to:
- Determine what the Defendant actually knew of believed as to the facts. Whether the Defendant’s beliefs were reasonable are not a separate issue – but goes to whether the beliefs were genuinely held;
- Decide whether the Defendant’s conduct is dishonest by the standards of ordinary, reasonable and honest people;
- There is no further requirement that the Defendant knew or appreciated that he or she acted dishonestly.
Sentencing for Fraud Offences
Sentencing powers under the Fraud Act vary hugely and can range from a community order or a fine to substantial custodial sentences including life imprisonment for the common law offence of Cheating the Revenue.
The current definitive Sentencing Guidelines can be accessed here.
Janes Solicitors will advise you on the potential range of sentences and options in your case. We will help you understand how to apply the guidelines.
- Harm – what was the actual intended loss to the victim as a result of the fraud? What impact did the fraud have overall?
- Culpability – what was the accused person’s role in the fraud, i.e. was there an extensive plan and strategy behind the alleged crime or was the fraud opportunistic?
- What is the monetary value of the case?
- What are the aggravating and mitigating factors of the case?
Cases are always considered on their own facts which can sometimes result in very different sentences for what appear to be similar offences.
Janes Solicitors will make sure the Courts are aware of all the arguments in your favour and any mitigation which may help to reduce any potential sentence.
Mitigating Factors in Fraud Sentencing
When it comes to sentencing under the Fraud Act, as with other crimes, mitigating factors may be taken into account and may result in a reduced sentence.
Mitigating factors are any factors which may be considered by the Court in an attempt to reduce the severity of any sentence.
When considering the sentence that may be imposed, the Judge can consider the following factors, among other points:
- The defendant’s character/ exemplary conduct including any previous offences (if relevant);
- The extent of an individual’s role in the act;
- Whether there has been remorse and cooperation with the authorities;
- Whether the defendant has any disability or mental illness;
- Whether money has been given back voluntarily;
- Any pressure the individual may have been under; and
- Lapse of time since apprehension.
At Janes Solicitors, we meticulously prepare your case to ensure all mitigating factors are taken into account by the Court. Our lawyers will work hard to collect as much evidence as possible such as medical notes and character references to ensure your mitigation is as strong as it can be.
Contact our Fraud Offence Defence Lawyers in London
Janes Solicitors provide bespoke advice and representation to businesses and individuals facing allegations of serious and complex fraud. We take a proactive and fearless approach to defending you to obtain the most successful conclusion to your cases. Contact us on 020 7930 5100 or complete our online enquiry form.