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"Deception" was a legal term of art used in the definition of statutory offences in
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
and
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
. It is a legal term of art in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
. Until 2007, in England and Wales, the main deception offences were defined in the
Theft Act 1968 The Theft Act 1968c 60 is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales. On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the off ...
and the
Theft Act 1978 The Theft Act 1978 (c 31) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the of the , the and the . It alone possesses and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK an ...
. The basic pattern of deception offences was established in the Theft Act 1968, and was then amended in the Theft Act 1978 and the
Theft (Amendment) Act 1996 Theft is the taking of another person's property or Service (economics), services or scrap money without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.''Criminal Law – Cases and Materials'', 7th ed. 2 ...
which addressed some of the problems that had arisen in the enforcement of the law.


England and Wales


Definition

Section 15(4) of the
Theft Act 1968 The Theft Act 1968c 60 is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales. On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the off ...
read: :For the purposes of this section "deception" means any deception (whether deliberate or reckless) by words or conduct as to fact or as to law, including a deception as to the present intentions of the person using the deception or any other person. This definition applied to the following offences: *
obtaining property by deception Obtaining property by deception was formerly a statutory crime, offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales This offence was created by section 15 of the Theft Act 1968. Sections 15(1) and (2) of that Act read: This off ...
, contrary to section 15 of the Theft Act 1968 *
obtaining a money transfer by deception Obtaining a money transfer by deception was formerly a statutory offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales This offence was created by section 15A of the Theft Act 1968. Section 15B made supplementary provision. Both of t ...
, contrary to section 15A of the Theft Act 1968 *
obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception was formerly a statute, statutory crime, offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It was replaced with the more general offence of Fraud#England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, fraud by the Fraud Ac ...
, contrary to section 16 of the Theft Act 1968 *Procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception, contrary to section 20(2) of the Theft Act 1968 *
obtaining services by deception Obtaining services by deception is a statutory offence in the Republic of Ireland. It has been abolished in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales See Theft Act 1978#Section 1 - Obtaining services by deception. Northern Ireland ...
, contrary to section 1 of the Theft Act 1978 *
evasion of liability by deception Evasion of liability by deception was formerly a statutory A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative asse ...
, contrary to section 2 of the Theft Act 1978 Sections 15, 15A, 16 and 20(2) of the Theft Act 1968, and sections 1 and 2 of the Theft Act 1978, were repealed on 15 January 2007 by the
Fraud Act 2006 The Fraud Act 2006 (c 35) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the of the , the and the . It alone possesses and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and ...
. The offences listed above have been called "deception offences".


Deliberate or reckless

A deception will be deliberate when the defendant knows that what he represents as true is untrue. This is predominantly a subjective test, matching the general approach to establishing
intentional Intentions are mental states A mental state, or a mental property, is a state of mind of a person. Mental states comprise a diverse class including perception, pain experience, belief, desire, intention, emotion, and memory. There is controversy c ...
behaviour. The test of recklessness is also predominantly subjective to show that the defendant is aware that what is represented may or may not be true, excluding the extended meaning of recklessness in ''R v Caldwell''
982 Year 982 ( CMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday A common year starting on Sunday is any non-leap year A leap year (also known as an intercalary year or wikt:bissextile, bissextile year) is a calendar year that contains an addition ...
AC 341.


Words or conduct

Deceptions are most commonly made by saying or not saying something significant, as in the
advance fee fraud An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence tricks. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster ...
, in which the defendant tells the victim that he is a rich person who needs discreetly to move money abroad, and wants to use the victim's bank account in return for a percentage of the money transferred. Mere conduct, however, can also imply facts which are untrue. Thus, wearing a particular uniform represents that the person is employed in that occupation, or writing a cheque supported by a cheque card represents that the writer has actual authority from the bank to use the card and that the bank will honour the cheque (see ''Metropolitan Police Commissioner v Charles''). If the defendant's words or conduct innocently represent something that later becomes untrue, or the defendant becomes aware the "victim" has made a mistake, they are obligated to correct the misunderstanding. Failure to do so can amount to deception. In ''Director of Public Prosecutions v Ray'' the defendant, after eating in a restaurant, decided not to pay for a meal. The defendant continued to sit quietly, lulling the waiters into believing payment would be made in due course, and thereby obtained the opportunity to leave without paying. Consequently, silence or an omission can be a continuing representation that nothing material has changed and so be a deception. This reasoning has also been applied to the offence of obtaining a service by deception, contrary to section 1 of the
Theft Act 1978 The Theft Act 1978 (c 31) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the of the , the and the . It alone possesses and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK an ...
. In ''R v Rai'', the defendant applied for a grant to adapt the house of his infirm mother. After the work had commenced, he failed to inform the local authority that his mother had died, and thereby obtained completion of the work. His conduct, taken as a whole, amounted to a continuing representation that she was alive.


Fact or law

Most deceptions relate to actual or supposed facts, or to an existing state of affairs, but this is distinguished from a false statement of opinion which, no matter how persuasive, is not a deception. Deception offences include situations where the defendant represents that
counterfeit To counterfeit means to imitate something authentic, with the intent to steal, destroy, or replace the original, for use in illegal transactions, or otherwise to deceive individuals into believing that the fake is of equal or greater value than ...
ed goods are genuine items, or misrepresents their identity (e.g., ''R v Barnard'', where the defendant represented that he was a student to an Oxford bookshop to qualify for their scheme of discounting books to students), or asserts that an envelope contains money. Statements may appear equivocal and still be a deception. Thus, in ''R v King''
979 Year 979 ( CMLXXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday A common year starting on Wednesday is any non-leap year (a year with 365 days) that begins on Wednesday, 1 January, and ends on Wednesday, 31 December. Its dominical letter hence is ...
CLR 279 the defendant admitted that the mileage on a car he was selling might not be correct. He had actually altered the odometer, so this statement was true, but he was properly convicted because in a second statement, he claimed not to know whether the odometer was correct, which was false. Similarly, a man dressed as a police officer who instructs someone to act in a particular way because 'the law requires it,' or a lawyer or accountant who relies on their professional status to mislead a client as to the law for their private benefit, deceives even though the general policy of English law is
ignorantia juris non excusat ''Ignorantia juris non excusat'Black's Law Dictionary'', 5th Edition, pg. 672 or ''ignorantia legis neminem excusat'Black's Law Dictionary'', 5th Edition, pg. 673 (Latin for "ignorance of the law excuses not" and "ignorance of law excuses no ...
, i.e. the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
for ignorance of the law does not excuse and so everyone is presumed to know what the law is.


Present intentions

In ''Director of Public Prosecutions v Ray'',Director of Public Prosecutions v Ray
974 Year 974 ( CMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday A common year starting on Thursday is any non-leap year A leap year (also known as an intercalary year or wikt:bissextile, bissextile year) is a calendar year that contains an additi ...
AC 370,
973 Year 973 ( CMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday A common year starting on Wednesday is any non-leap year (a year with 365 days) that begins on Wednesday, 1 January, and ends on Wednesday, 31 December. Its dominical letter hence is ...
3 WLR 359,
973 Year 973 ( CMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday A common year starting on Wednesday is any non-leap year (a year with 365 days) that begins on Wednesday, 1 January, and ends on Wednesday, 31 December. Its dominical letter hence is ...
3 All ER 131, 117 SJ 663, 58 Cr App R 130,
sub nom A number of Latin terms are used in law, legal terminology and legal maxims. This is a partial list of these "legal Latin" terms, which are wholly or substantially drawn from Latin. __TOC__ Common law Civil law Ecclesiastical law ...
Ray v Sempers
974 Year 974 ( CMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday A common year starting on Thursday is any non-leap year A leap year (also known as an intercalary year or wikt:bissextile, bissextile year) is a calendar year that contains an additi ...
Crim LR 181, HL, reversing
sub nom A number of Latin terms are used in law, legal terminology and legal maxims. This is a partial list of these "legal Latin" terms, which are wholly or substantially drawn from Latin. __TOC__ Common law Civil law Ecclesiastical law ...
Ray v Sempers
973 Year 973 ( CMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday A common year starting on Wednesday is any non-leap year (a year with 365 days) that begins on Wednesday, 1 January, and ends on Wednesday, 31 December. Its dominical letter hence is ...
1 WLR 317
the defendant who sits in a restaurant impliedly represents that they intend to pay for the meal. This is a representation as to present intention and it would be a deception whether the defendant has sufficient money to pay. It is distinguishable from the defendants who hide their money so that they can represent an inability to pay (a misrepresentation as to fact).


Deception and theft

There is an inevitable overlap between the general offence of
theft Theft is the taking of another person's property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of pr ...

theft
, contrary to section 1(1), and these offences because they cover both general and specific situations in which the defendant will appropriate property by using some form of deception. Deception offences are separately defined to avoid any problems that might arise when the "victim"
consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent as unde ...

consent
s to the taking. Because the effect of the deception may be to persuade the owner to pass title to the goods, albeit on a voidable title, those goods may not "belong to another" at the time of the appropriation. In fact, strong authority has emerged that this is not a real problem because an appropriation is the "assumption" of the rights of ownership, whether that assumption is effective in law: see R v Gomez
993 Year 993 ( CMXCIII) was a common year starting on Sunday A common year starting on Sunday is any non-leap year A leap year (also known as an intercalary year or wikt:bissextile, bissextile year) is a calendar year that contains an addition ...
AC 44

This case has been criticised because it apparently eliminates the need for the section 15 offence. Yet the deception offences are preserved and are the preferred charges in situations involving deceptive behaviour both because theft carries a lower minimum sentence, and as a matter of general principle, because a charge should describe what the defendant actually did in the simplest and most direct form.


Republic of Ireland

Sections 2(1) and (2)
of the
Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 (No. 50 of 2001) updates and consolidates the law relating to dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty ''Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man'', attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein ( ...
provide a definition of deception. It applies to the following offences: * Making gain or causing loss by deception, contrary t
section 6
of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 *
Obtaining services by deception Obtaining services by deception is a statutory offence in the Republic of Ireland. It has been abolished in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales See Theft Act 1978#Section 1 - Obtaining services by deception. Northern Ireland ...
, contrary t
section 7
of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 *Procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception, contrary t

of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001


References

*Allen, Michael. ''Textbook on Criminal Law''. Oxford University Press: Oxford. (2005) . *Criminal Law Revision Committee. 8th Report. Theft and Related Offences. Cmnd. 2977 *Law Commission Consultation Paper No.15. Fraud and Deception. (October, 1999

*Griew, Edward. ''Theft Acts 1968 & 1978'', Sweet & Maxwell: London. *Ormerod, David. ''Smith and Hogan Criminal Law'', LexisNexis: London. (2005) *Smith, J. C. ''Law of Theft'', LexisNexis: London. (1997) . *Smith, J. C. ''Obtaining Cheques by Deception or Theft'' (1997) CLR 396 *Smith, J. C. ''Stealing Tickets'' (1998) CLR 723 {{Authority control Crime by type English criminal law